Gruber and Tavenner Praise ACA, Evade Questions at Oversight Hearing on Transparency

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In the Dec 9 hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee brilliant MIT economist Jonathan Gruber and CMS head Marilyn Tavenner both displayed memory loss and lack of knowledge of key numbers.

Both Gruber and Tavenner sang the praises of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as did “independent” witness Ari Goldman called by Democrats. Goldman works part time as a waiter in D.C., and also does consulting work. He said he is healthy but has two pre-existing conditions, and is delighted with his ObamaCare plan.

Gruber apologized 18 times for “inexcusable” comments. He was lambasted by ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for giving ammunition to detractors of ACA.

The hearing, as chairman Darrell Issa pointed out, was not about the merits of ACA but about the transparency in the process by which it was enacted. Much of the discussion, especially by Democrats, was a distraction.

Gruber did not admit to lying, or to telling the truth in his videotaped comments on exploitation, manipulation, and deceptiveness. He repeatedly said he was just “conjecturing outside my area of expertise.” He denied being an “architect” of ObamaCare or RomneyCare.

All his modeling assumed that everyone would be entitled to subsidies, and he asserted that ACA was clear on that point—though he did not explicitly disavow his comments on the need for restricting subsidies outside State Exchanges to incentivize States to set them up. More “conjecturing,” apparently, in an effort to make himself look smarter or more important.

Gruber would not answer questions on whether he would supply documents to the Committee on his contracts, remuneration, or work product, telling the Committee to speak to his lawyer concerning his disclosure obligations.

Tavenner admitted that CMS is not informing people about potential tax liability if they simply re-enroll in an ObamaCare plan, or about costs if a Supreme Court decision removes their subsidy. CMS assumes that the Court will uphold the IRS rulemaking and thus the authority of the Executive Branch to rewrite the law.

The transcript and video are available and highlights were live-tweeted by @AAPS, Jane Orient, Twila Brase, and others.

Michael Cannon’s GruberGate the Mini-Series:

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