Obama: We didn’t deceive anyone to pass Obamacare

By Sara Fischer, CNN
updated 5:56 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

(CNN) — President Obama denied an accusation on Sunday that he had misled voters about his signature health care law in order to get it passed in 2010.

“We had a yearlong debate. I mean, go back and look at your stories,” Obama told reporters at the G20 summit in Australia Sunday. “The one thing we can’t say is that, ‘we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United states of America’ or that it was not adequately covered.”

“The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with … is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said.

The comments the President referred to were made by Jim Gruber, an MIT health care economist, who noted in a 2010 speech that he “helped write the federal bill” and “was a paid consultant to the Obama administration to help develop the technical details as well.”

In a series of speeches that have recently regained attention, Gruber says that engineers of the law, including the administration, took advantage of voters’ “stupidity” in order to get the measure to pass.

“Lack of transparency is a huge advantage,” Gruber said in a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. “And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

“(I wish) we could make it all transparent. But I’d rather have this law than not,” he said.

In another video, Gruber calls the strategy an “exploitation” of the American voter.

“It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,” Gruber said at the Honors Colloquium 2012 at the University of Rhode Island.

Obama vehemently denied Sunday that his administration was anything but transparent regarding the creation of the law and the debate that surrounded its implementation.

“I would just advise every press outlet here: Pull up every clip and every story. I think it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent. It was a tough debate,” Obama said.

“Now, there were folks who disagreed with some of these various positions. It was a tough debate,” he added

The latest video is the sixth of its kind to emerge of Gruber detailing the political process behind the creation of the Affordable Care Act. In the video, Gruber explains how ‘mislabeling’ the law helped the administration get rid of tax breaks.

“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research in Boston. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.”

On Friday, former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Gruber’s remarks were generally “very harmful politically to the president.”

“This is not good,” Carney said. “(He) speaks from the ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and by extension the American Congress.”

Carney and his former boss aren’t the only Democrats distancing themselves from Gruber’s remarks. On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t even know who Gruber was, despite having formerly cited him on her website when she was House majority leader.

“I don’t know who he (Gruber) is. He didn’t help write our bill,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “With all due respect … you have a person who wasn’t writing bill our bill commenting on what was going on when we were writing our bill who has withdrawn some of statements that he made.”