Did Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber make the same mistake twice? A new audio clip finds him once again explaining that Obamacare subsidies are tied to state health exchanges.
A clip of Jonathan Gruber circulated last night in which he states that Obamacare subsidies are tied to the existence of state exchanges. This statement is extremely problematic for the law’s supporters because it appears to confirm the view of plaintiffs in the Halbig case, i.e. that only state-exchanges were intended to deliver subsidies.
This morning Gruber told the New Republic‘s Jonathan Cohn that he doesn’t know why he said it at the time in 2012. “I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake,” he claims. He added, “My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.” A typo is usually a simple slip of the finger on the keyboard, i.e. a misspelling or missed bit of punctuation. Gruber’s statement is nearly a minute long.
Also, it turns out it was not the only time he made such a statement. An audio clip from a public appearance Gruber made at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on January 10, 2012 reveals he made the same connection between subsidies and state-based exchanges on at least one other occasion (hat tip to MorgenR).
Obviously, Gruber can continue to claim he was wrong but it becomes harder to explain this as the equivalent of a typo when he said it more than once.
In addition, it’s worth pointing out that on this occasion, unlike the one revealed last night, Gruber’s statement was not in response to a question. During both speeches, Gruber listed three possible threats to the implementation of Obamacare. In both cases the third “threat” was that states would not set up exchanges. In the January 10th speech (above) he simply went into more detail about the nature of that threat. In the January 18th speech that detail wasn’t mentioned until the Q&A.