Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Wall Street Journal’s Satire on Jonathan Gruber

As a rule, Americans don’t like to be called “stupid” as Jonathan Gruber is discovering. Whatever his academic contempt for voters, the ObamaCare architect and Massachusetts Institute of Technology architect deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his candor about the corruption of the federal budget process.

Review and Outlook, “Jonathon Gruber’s “’Stupid’ Budget Tricks,” Wall Street Journal, November 15-16, 2014

I saw a bumper sticker today , “Satire: Man’s natural defense against Stupidity.”

When I read it, I thought of the Wall Street Journal’s satirical OP-ed and recent article on Jonathon Gruber, an MIT professor of economics.

As expressed in the opening quote, the WSJ's editors said that Gruber deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is the height of satire . Instead,of course, what Gruber said on multiple occasions encroached on the freedom of American voters and their right to choose their doctors and health plans.

Gruber was caught on seven videos, mostly at academic conferences, saying that the Obama administration conned fellow Democrats and American voters into creating misleading language in the Affordable Care Act to help it pass. In subsequent statements, President Obama said 31 times words to this effect. “You can keep your doctor and your health plan, period.”

Gruber said the law would not have passed if deemed a tax. That would have been “politically impossible, ” and “I’d rather have this law than not.”

“This bill,” he went on , “ was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If the CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies."

In a November 12 WSJ piece, James Taranto wrote an OP-Ed “An Honest Man: In Praise of Jonathon Gruber.” The title may be a satirical play on words of the title in James Agee’s famous book Let Us Now Praise Honest Men. But, alas, to quote Lady Montagu (1689-1762), “Satire should like a polished razor keen, Would with a touch that’s scarcely felt or seen.”

Taranto does not yield a razor. He uses satire more like an ax to bludgeon Gruber, and to discredit ObamaCare.

“Gruber himself had asserted on multiple occasions that it was Congress’s intention to limit the subsidies to state-established exchanges. In that view, Congress’s intent was to make it so attractive to set up an exchange that no state would refuse. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really critical for the thing to pass.”

Taranto argues that Gruber gave plaintiffs the basis for the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case of King vs. Burwell. If the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the decision may destroy ObamaCare, “ The plaintiffs rest their argument on the plain language of the statute, which limits subsidies to taxpayers ‘enrolled in [policies] through an Exchange established by the State.’ The administration’s defenders, including Gruber, have argued that the plain-language interpretation is counter to congressional intent and that the limitation is a mere ‘typo.’ That claim is nonsensical. Even if it was a drafting error, it was far more serious than a mere typo.”

Typo or not, implies Taranto, Gruber gave the Republicans and the Supreme Court on a silver platter, or perhaps I should say a loaded gun chamber, the ammunition they needed to undermine and perhaps destroy ObamaCare by killing it of the credibility it needed to pass the smell test of the American voter. The health law has been unpopular from the beginning. Without the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s legacy and American liberalism would lie in tatters.