Obama, Democrats snub Prof. Gruber over remarks on health care law

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Jonathan H. Gruber ’87
M. Scott Brauer

MIT economics professor Jonathan H. Gruber ’87, often referred to as a key Obamacare “architect,” has come under fire recently for videos from 2012 and 2013 in which he calls American voters “stupid” and attributes the passage of the Affordable Care Act in part to “basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,” according to press reports from this past weekend.

Gruber was paid almost $400,000 by the Obama administration for his work on the ACA. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said that “he ought to just give the money back.”

Gruber said on MSNBC last week that he regretted his “off the cuff” remarks. Lecture transcripts on OpenCourseWare show that he seems to call things “stupid” frequently.

Republicans have used his videos to argue that the Obama administration was not sufficiently transparent about the ACA before it passed. President Obama dismissed the criticisms on Sunday.

“I just heard about this,” Obama said at a press conference. “The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with, in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.”

Democrats have been distancing themselves from Gruber, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claiming that she didn’t know who he was despite citing him in 2009.

Prominent Democrats have disputed his claims that the ACA passed because voters were in the dark about the taxes associated with insuring more people. Former Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod took to Twitter to assert that the ACA was clear and that Gruber was the one being “stupid,” and White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that every step of the ACA “has been extraordinarily transparent.”

Fox News’s Sean Hannity sent a camera crew to MIT’s Building E25 on Monday to confront an umbrella-toting Gruber.

“Professor, do you really think the American voters are stupid?” a crew member asks. “What about the Obamacare? Is that just a hoax on the American people?” Hannity’s footage then shows Gruber walking away without responding.

Bob Miller over 9 years ago

This should be a caution to all MIT students and faculty that the US has no technical elite privileged to deceive, rob and insult Americans in the name of some pet cause.

Anonymous over 9 years ago

The sad reality is MIT Prof was telling the truth about his and Obama's despicable acts. The NIH should pull all government funding from MIT until they fire this guy.

Hugh Davis over 9 years ago

My wife and I work for two different institutions of higher education. Under both our systems, Dr. Gruber's actions constitute major and serious ethics violation. Shouldn't MIT review this? Or, does MIT's ethical code no reach into the moral behavior of it's faculty.

Anonymous over 9 years ago

Why is Professor Gruber still on the MIT faculty? He is an embarrassment to himself and to MIT. His statements are far more egregious than those of Walter Lewin.