Sweet Mother of Hades – This is U.N.R.E.A.L.
During a June 13th 2012 PBS interview with Frontline Jonathan Gruber explains with great and specific detail how the entire construct of ObamaCare came into being. Full Video and Transcript HERE (while it lasts).
Within the interview he is asked questions about meeting with President Obama. Gruber discusses meeting with Obama in 2006 as a senator, and then meeting with Obama in the oval office as President when they brainstormed the “Cadillac Tax” and came up with the way to fool people about taxing for healthcare. There’s no longer a way the White House can try to distance themselves from Gruber.
Here’s an excerpt of the transcript. The interviewer is PBS producer Michael Kirk:
So were you ever in a room with Obama?
Tell me. Take me there.
So the first time was in, I don’t know exactly. You know, if I knew at the time how important it would be, I would have written down the date. It is like late 2006 maybe. It was right before he announced he was running. So maybe it was earlier than that, maybe spring 2006, right before he — when people sort of knew he was thinking about it but he hadn’t announced yet. I went down, basically did a tutorial for him on what we had done in Massachusetts and how it would work and basically thinking about expanding it to the national stage.
Where were you? Where was it?
This was in his Senate offices.
And what was he like then?
He was very interested. It was really just an information session. He was really interested in learning. He clearly was not interested in little incremental things. He wanted to be bold. That was clear. He said, “Look, I want to do big changes.” He was really interested in what we had done in Massachusetts. The evidence wasn’t in yet by the time I was meeting with him, but he was interested in what we had done. …
The next time you see him?
The next time I see him is summer 2009. The big issue there is that he really wants to make sure I’m moving forward on cost control. I think that at this point he sort of knew we had a good plan on coverage, but he was worried on cost control. So we had a meeting in the Oval Office with several experts, including myself, on what can we do to get credible savings on cost control that the Congressional Budget Office would recognize and score as savings in this law.
And that was a meeting — it was very exciting, once again, because the economists in the room all said the number one thing you need to do is you need to take on the tax subsidy to employer-sponsored insurance. We need one minute of background on this. The way employer-sponsored insurance works is, if you get paid in wages, you get taxed. If you get paid in health insurance, you do not. …
So this tax subsidy economists have been railing against for decades, it’s super-expensive. We forego about $250 billion per year in tax revenues. It’s regressive — the richer you are, the bigger tax break you get. And it’s inefficient because it causes people to buy excessive health insurance. So everyone in the room said, “You want something that is real cost control that we know it will work, go after this.”
Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare, … and people say, “No, you can’t tax my benefits.” So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, “Well, you know” — I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, “Look, I can’t just do this.” He said: “It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?” And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic.
Once again, that ultimately became the genesis of what is called the Cadillac tax in the health care bill, which I think is one of the most important and bravest parts of the health care law and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I mean, this is the first time after years and years of urging — and the entire health policy, there was not one single health expert in America who is setting up a system from scratch, would have this employer subsidy in place. Not one.
So after years and years of us wanting to get rid of this, to finally go after it was just such a huge victory for health policy. And I’m just incredibly proud that he and the others who supported this law were willing to do it. …
Is there a difference in the Obama you see in 2006 and the Obama you see, especially in the summer of 2009? …
You know, I would have thought — in one case I’m sitting in his Senate office; in the other I’m in the Oval Office. One case he is just a senator, and the other he is the president. He is just so relaxing to be around. It was not stressful. It’s just people going by. I was a little nervous. It’s the president, after all. But he’s just kind of interested in what people had to say.
The way these meetings work is everyone gives their little five-minute spiel, and then he would make a comment or two, and they would go around, and then we would have a discussion.
And he had a couple of remarks after everybody’s, and he was clearly interested, and he was clearly thinking about it. But once again, it felt sort of like an academic meeting, not academic in the pejorative sense, academic like in the academy. It was just a fun, intellectual conversation. …
If you really want to see publicly how Obama works, then the key thing to do is watch that Blair House meeting. That, to me, is one of the proudest moments. That was an incredibly intellectual exercise where Obama sat in front of a bunch of people, including people very opposed, and held his own and discussed the policy issues and really, he is just a smart guy and interested in getting it right.
That was the Obama you recognized?
That was the Obama I recognized, yes.