Jonathan Gruber speaking before a University of Pennsylvania crowd at last year’s Annual Health Economists’ Conference
Are any of the things that the Affordable Care Act’s loquacious architect Jonathan Gruber has been caught saying really that shocking? Did anyone truly believe that Obamacare was primarily about bending cost curves, lowering deficits, or easing the growing premiums of middle-class families? Did anyone but the most zealous disciple ever accept that this was about anything other than expanding Medicaid and creating bureaucratic mechanisms to better control the insurance market?
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber explained to academics last year. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.”
You might remember that the Senate kept massaging its “conceptual” language until the CBO’s estimate met every one of President Barack Obama’s preconditions for passage, bringing the price tag under a trillion dollars and allowing advocates to maintain the ludicrous fantasy that Obamacare would pay for itself. As Gruber notes, a lack of transparency is always helpful when taking advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Well, even with so much obscured, the law had to be crammed through Congress. And by now there is no sentient being on the planet who doesn’t understand that the administration’s initial numbers were fraudulent. (Okay, maybe one.)
But Gruber also implicitly admits the first eternal truth of all liberal experiments: money is no object. It is the moral objective that matters most. And now, when all the rosy charts from explainer sites are exhausted and all the pundits who’ve endlessly repeated that “Obamacare is working” have failed to move polls in their direction, we are left with another unadorned truth. If you dispute that government is the best way to underwrite decency, you are cruel, depraved, and possibly an accessory to murder.
“All I know is that it’s important for people to have health insurance,” Maine’s Angus King tells a Fox News host who asks him a completely legitimate question about the corruption that helped get Obamacare passed. “Are you that cruel?” he asks in an attempt to circumvent answering for the lies and ineptitude that made the legislation possible.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued a writ of certiorari in King v. Burwell, you can imagine there’s some serious concern about the future. We might soon find out that the Internal Revenue Service violated the law when it allowed subsidies to be available for insurance policies purchased on the federal exchanges rather than only participating state exchanges. There is plenty of evidence to suggest this was done on purpose in an effort to pressure more states to participate, but there seems to be legitimate arguments on both sides. The idea that it was a typo, though repeatedly endlessly, has long been debunked.
So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes.
Let’s ponder that statement for a moment: Does Krugman believe that Supreme Court justices with lifetime appointments—judges whose ideological temperament have been fairly consistent for 20, 30, 40 years—are willing to sell their decisions to serve some nameless political master? I suppose the only question is how deep the intrigue goes! Now, Krugman might be a sincere conspiracy theorist or maybe he’s just a dishonest partisan, but he offers us another truth: there is no difference between acts of corruption and opposition to legislation he favors.
We see this kind of morally self-affirming position quite often these days. In The New Republic, after offering an array of comforting possibilities onHalbig, some of them plausible, Brian Beutler explains:
Irrespective of the legal questions, and questions about judicial temperament, the justices will be made well aware of the fact that a knee-jerk ruling in favor of the challengers will kill people.
One imagines that any ruling that inhibits Progressive policy is knee-jerky to the staff writers at The New Republic, but surely somewhere there are still people who believe the Supreme Court should concentrate on the constitutionality of laws rather than worrying about the imaginary genocides cooked up in the minds of guilt-tripping pundits.
(By the way, we can already start blaming the Supreme Court for this bloodbath. You might also have seen this column by Dana Milbank that contends Obamacare numbers are falling because “the looming possibility that the high court will strike down the law will probably deter those who are considering signing up for its coverage.” Boy, I really need insurance for my family, but you know, with the prospect of the court granting cert on King v. Burwell in a few months I don’t know what to do!)
If the John Roberts court finally nullifies Obamacare, will they alone be responsible for the coming genocide? Will legislators and politicians who crammed through terribly written legislation bear some of the burden? Republican leadership? Or is the mortal sin of resisting Progressive policy going to be on the heads of all 51 percent of Americans who dislike Obamacare? Well, whatever the celestial implications are, at least we can stop pretending the Left is debating policy anymore.