We Were Had (Revised)
That awkward moment when... #Gruber #Grubergate pic.twitter.com/mI8TIp94uI
— Robert Crawford (@jurassicpork59) November 14, 2014
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)ObamaCare, to put it simply, is a snake venom that nonetheless somewhat succeeds in counteracting an even more pernicious malady. It's the red-hot poker that cauterizes a bleeding wound.
(Editor's note: When Monkeyfister told me on Twitter last month that he'd front page this on Crooks and Liars in the week of December 7th, I asked Mikey to revise and expand this post that was originally put out in November. Since that time, Gruber is no longer in the news and with typical rapidity we've already absorbed our outrage over his arrogance and admission of disingenuousness. I'm unsure this post retains its original topical power. However, I'd like to think the facts as well as the linkage helping to assert the claims therein are empirical. And whether or not you agree with Mikey's editorializing, I hope you won't forget the Paypal button. I've just made a significant outlay of cash to get my 16 year-old car fixed and inspection-ready, Christmas is taking a big bite out of whatever meager savings I have and, with winter upon us, the gas bills are going to get much higher. So if you can please spare a few sheckels during the silly season, we here at Casa De Pottersville would immensely appreciate it. Remember, I do not and will not take on ads with which to distract and bother you and your generosity is all that's keeping us afloat. Thank you and happy holidays to all.)
It was never, ever intended to be anything more than that.
It is a position, often a lonely and adversarial one, that had been consistently taken by yours truly in this very byline since the mislabeled Affordable Care Act was first being debated by no less than five Congressional committees starting in the spring of 2009. Yet, conservatives and truly enlightened liberals such as me cannot and should not succumb to the siren lure of schadenfreude in light of the strangely delayed revelations regarding Jonathan Gruber.
Beginning in March of 2010, a week before Congress finally ratified the ACA and put it on Mr. Obama's desk to sign into law, Gruber had openly, brazenly and, until now, seemingly without impunity was crowing about how "lack of transparency and the stupidity of the American voter, whatever" was responsible for the bill's success. Then emerged a fifth video (and, no doubt, counting) of a now-infamous testy and condescending exchange between Gruber and a Vermont voter who was concerned about the ACA's ramifications.
Predictably, wingnuts on Twitchy, Hot Air, Breitbart and other right wing convection ovens have been crowing about ObamaCare's inherent dishonesty, of which most us were already aware. But now they have in Gruber their smoking gun. Five, in fact. And among their talking points is how liberal elitists lied to the American public about the health care bill. But liberals had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the bill's crafting, creation or ratification.
ObamaCare was passed in first the House, then the Senate then put on the president's desk to be signed into law as with countless other bills. It was not put on a national referendum and not one American voted for it. None of us little people had any say as to what it would contain or not.
And now, "leaders" such as Nancy Pelosi are playing the predictably scummy, craven political game of distancing herself from someone she'd quoted and mentioned countless times five years ago who has now been exposed as the Most Hated Man in America. Democrats are running from Gruber as if he has Ebola, Obama and everyone associated with the bill who's still on the Hill are in full spin mode and right wingers who were told to hate the ACA by the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey's Freedomwerx now have their health care Willie Horton.
The Triple Whammy
Secondly, there was Obama's palpable lie of, "If you like your present health care plan, you can keep it," which proved to be as honest and prescient as Obama pledging to close Guantanamo Bay or loopholes for corporations headquartered overseas.
Thirdly, there's Gruber's arrogant, condescending and out of touch comments about the American people and his pride in the lack of transparency of the government that had paid him so handsomely to mislead the public.
And last year while conservatives jeered, liberals struggled to put on a happy face and bombed Twitter and Facebook with memes about how Bush killed hundreds of thousands (a place they seriously do not want to go) while Obama had a slow website. Now it's almost entertaining watching these liberals who think everything Obama does is in some way miraculous on a Biblical level struggling even more mightily to keep on their O faces after ample evidence has been avalancheing out of the past at warp speed 10 that its architect called them "stupid."
It's impossible to estimate the embarrassment this has visited on the Obama administration, which paid this man over $400,000 to craft a bill that was mislabeled as almost all about health care (hence the inevitably sarcastic name of the bill). It ought to be embarrassing to the mainstream media for letting these explosive revelations languish for better than four and a half years. And it should be embarrassing to any Democrat still in Congress who'd voted for such a steaming pile of horse shit.
Most of all, it should be embarrassing to so-called liberals such as Esquire's Charles Pierce (who seemed to love it simply because it helped his ailing wife) who thought the tepid reforms and it being just a giant gateway to the free market was the greatest thing since Medicare (which in 1965 LBJ signed into law without him or Congress having to mislead the American public). In short, anyone who hated the bill or opposed it with such virulence should be stripped of their voting rights and undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation. Because it seems no one save for Gruber, the President and several people on the five committees that had refined and crafted it knew exactly what it contained.
The Three Blind Chinese Men and the Republican Mascot
This perfectly describes the second-hand experience of the American voter who had no say in the bill's crafting and had foisted off on them like a pile of flaming dog shit on Cabbage Night. It was a testament, albeit a sad one, of the persistent cheerfulness and glass-half-full optimism of your typical Obama voter.
But the fact remains that out of all the bills signed into law by the nearly six year-old Obama administration. the ACA is easily the most misunderstood one of all. And that's not completely their fault. The administration's and Democratic Congress's explanations of it were largely incoherent, almost as much as the Teabaggers' screaming oppositions to it during Town Halls in the summer of 2009. And Gruber did, after all, lie to not just us but the nonpartisan CBO over how the ACA should be packaged and sold (90% cost control and 10% mandatory health care instead of the opposite). The ACA was largely funded through tax hikes on the 1% yet Gruber, inanely, disregarded the populist appeal of raising taxes on the wealthy and (under the assumption we "stupid voters" didn't know how to read), deliberately suppressed any hint it was a tax hike.
Yet it wasn't as if there was a complete media blackout of the bill's contents.
However, liberals chose to ignore the back room deal struck by Rahm Immanuel (whose very name ought to be, if it already isn't, synonymous with arrogant, Democratic elitism) and Big Pharma to cap drug reimbursements at $80,000,000,000. Dig hole in sand, insert head. Repeat as necessary.
Liberals also stuck their fingers in their ears when Max Baucus, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, refused to hear testimony from universal single-payer advocates who were arrested for speaking up and even made a joke about running out of cops to Republican Chuck Grassley. Liberals were also nonplussed that the ACA was never, ever intended (despite Obama's immediately-broken campaign promises) to be anything more or less than a gateway to the very same health insurance companies that have been bilking the American taxpayer, and government, for decades, turning our health care system into the rest of the world's punchline.
And Gruber's abominable and infuriating comments about the "stupidity" of the American people that he nonetheless willfully mislead and even lied to show just how much of an out-of-touch elitist he truly is. His comments back on March 10, 2010, when the bill was still being hashed out, that Americans care much more about health care costs and far less about insuring the uninsured are so wrongheaded and ignorant it's beyond laughter.
One Shade of Grayson
I guess he forgot all about Alan Grayson constantly hammering home the fact on the floor of the House that 48,000,000 Americans were uninsured and that 45,000 of them die each year for lack of health coverage. I suppose Gruber also forgot about liberals (the real ones) screaming about universal single payer and not allowing red states to opt out of Medicare expansion out of a misguided and futile attempt to respect "states' rights" (a sop thrown to the GOP that got exactly two Republican votes in the Senate and has not done a thing to keep Republicans from voting no less than 52 consecutive times to repeal ObamaCare).
I also suppose Gruber forgot about Congressman Grayson's Medicare Expansion bill, all three and a half streamlined pages of it, that he'd drafted out nearly five years ago and attracted over 70 co-sponsors.
Limousine liberals and the Obama administration (as I'd said here several times) made the colossal mistake of investing so much political capital on one piece of domestic legislation so early in its history. With the Iraq War, Afghanistan, terrorism, Gitmo, immigration, environmental issues, gay rights and too many others to name, the Obama administration should've dispersed its political capital more evenly instead of putting all its eggs in one basket.
And so-called liberals, happily following that disastrous meme, acted as if the success of the rest of the Obama administration rested with ratification of the ACA, a bloated and more unwieldy version of the equally disastrous RomneyCare here in Massachusetts.
Liberals had it only half right as were spittle-flecked teabaggers who didn't, couldn't or wouldn't understand it any better than we: ObamaCare has undoubtedly saved lives and over 10,000 fewer Americans are dying every year through lack of coverage. It has driven down premiums, deductibles and co-pays as well as abolishing the prejudice against those with preexisting conditions. And your child can remain on your health care plan until they're 26.
But it was, at best, a vastly flawed work in progress in desperate need of improvement. Liberals made the mistake of seeing it, hairy warts and all, with the peculiar beer goggles with which lonely horny men see the sole remaining barfly at last call. If it was to be so popular, then why enforce "compliance" through two bylaws in the federal tax code? Conservatives hoarsely screamed as they were told to that it was a Commie takeover of 1/6 of our national economy while Sarah Palin sneeringly claimed to see death panels from her house.
It was neither. It was a single, staggering step in the right direction, with muddy bootprints. But with Gruber's astoundingly stupid confessions these past four to five years, this may be the monkey wrench the newly-empowered Republicans have been looking for to finally repeal the ACA and put us right back to the Dark Ages we were in prior to the bill's passage. Liberals and conservatives ought to stop pointing the finger at each other and pointing it, instead, at elitist assholes such as Gruber and Obama. We were all had.