Patterico's Pontifications


Jonathan Gruber’s “Speak-o” Number Two

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:09 pm

Hoo-boy. If you had any doubts about why you look at the words of a statute rather than some inchoate “intent,” this ought to dispel those doubts lickety-split.

So this morning, we saw how the chief architect of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, had said, “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.” D’oh! Looks like the Halbig plaintiffs didn’t make up that concept!

A lefty writer from the New Republic asked him why on earth he said that, and his answer was that it was an off-the-cuff remark — not a “typo,” but a “speak-o”:

I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it. . . . But there was never any intention to literally withhold money, to withhold tax credits, from the states that didn’t take that step. That’s clear in the intent of the law and if you talk to anybody who worked on the law. My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.

Well. As it turns out, it was a “mistake” very much like Congress’s “mistake” in limiting subsidies to plans bought on exchanges “established by the state.” Namely: it wasn’t a mistake at all. How do we know this? Meet “Speak-o Part Two: The ‘Prepared Remarks’ Version”:

The key passage:

Through a political compromise, it was decided that states should play a critical role in running these health insurance exchanges.

. . . .

Now, I guess I’m enough of a believer in democracy to think that when the voters in states see that by not setting up an exchange the politicians of a state are costing state residents hundreds and millions and billions of dollars, that they’ll eventually throw the guys out. But I don’t know that for sure. And that is really the ultimate threat, is, will people understand that, gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.

SPEAK-O!!! Except:

Morgen is the fella who found this clip, by the way. The best part?

Asked over email whether those remarks were a mistake, too, Gruber wrote back, “same answer.”

Four points.

First: I don’t generally like to call people liars. But when Gruber says he was making the oral equivalent of a typo, Gruber is lying — and this is exactly what lefties are doing by claiming that the “established by the state” language is a typo. Isn’t it funny how all these supposed errors say the same thing? — namely, that subsidies are available only on exchanges being run by the states. When Congressmen and women say the written language of the law is a mistake, they are lying, just as surely as Gruber is lying when he describes his repeated and prepared point as a “speak-o.”

Second: I know I keep saying this, but it’s important: This is why you can’t allow the interpretation of a law to be government by intent. It’s easy to lie about intent, and not so easy to lie about the wording of the law — because, there’s the wording, right there in black and white.

Third: in listening to other interviews with this guy, it has become more and more clear that tying subsidies to state establishment of exchanges was deliberate. Not only was it a “political compromise” (as Gruber says in the quote above), but it is consistent with his oft-repeated talking point that ObamaCare did not represent a federal takeover of health care. If you listen to any extended interview with him, he makes that point again and again. The people who wrote this law really thought all the states would set up these exchanges, and that bad assumption explains everything.

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot point four! Four:

Another point that comes up in one of Gruber’s interviews is another reason that federal exchanges would have been created even though they didn’t offer subsidies. Namely, the exchanges are cited by Gruber as being part of a cost-containing measure. He says that Blue Cross is able to charge more just because they’re Blue Cross. On an exchange, where all the insurers’ prices are placed side by side, the direct comparison will lead to lower prices — or so the theory goes. Again: this is yet another reason that the Halbig decision makes sense.

Meriam Ibrahim’s Release: Whom to Thank

Filed under: Current Events,General,Obama,Politics,Religion — JVW @ 10:24 am

[guest post by JVW]

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman married to an American citizen, was flown to Rome from Khartoum yesterday, thus bringing to an end the saga of her death sentence handed down by a Sudanese Islamic court for alleged apostasy and adultery.

The trouble apparently began when Ms. Ibrahim traveled to Sudan on a Sudanese passport to visit her ailing mother. She brought her 18-month-old son, Martin, and was at the time in the second trimester of a pregnancy. Her Sudanese-American husband, Daniel Wani, is confined to a wheelchair due to MS and therefore remained in the couple’s New Hampshire home. The trouble in Khartoum began when Ms. Ibfahim’s Muslim half-brother, Al Semani Al Hadi, brought charges against her for allegedly abandoning the Islamic faith to marry a Christian man. Ms. Ibrahim contends that her mother is an Eastern Orthodox Christian and she has always practiced the Christian faith, but authorities declared that by having a Muslim father Ms. Ibrahim was obligated to follow the tenets of Islam, even though her father had left the family early in Ms. Ibrahim’s youth. Her marriage to a Christian and the birth of her son Martin (along with her obvious pregnancy) thus became adultery in the eyes of the Sharia court. Ms. Ibrahim was sentenced to death for the “crime” of apostasy and tossed in prison and placed in shackles. The death sentence was “mercifully” delayed so that Ms. Ibrahim could give birth to her second child, a daughter, Maya, and the 100 lashes that she was to receive for adultery were cancelled. According to both Ms. Ibrahim and Mr. Wani, she gave birth while her legs remained chained.

After an international outcry caused the Sudanese court to release her, she was once again arrested at the Khartoum Airport and charged with carrying false travel documents. This time, she and her children were allowed to serve their detention at the U.S. Embassy, but the family had to worry not only about the possibility of not being permitted to leave but also having the death sentence restored. Finally, she was granted new travel documents and permitted to leave with her children yesterday. The lawyer for Ms. Ibrahim told the Daily Mail that her release was secured by the Italian government, who provided the plane and dispatched a deputy foreign minister to escort the family to Rome where they had an audience with Pope Francis.

So you would think that the wife of a United States citizen with a son and a daughter who are natural-born United States citizens would have been way too frightening of a target for a Sudanese Sharia court, but we simply cannot ignore the degree to which radical Islam apparently believes that there are no consequences for poking the U.S. in the eye as long as Barack Obama is President.* As he so often does, Mark Steyn sums up the impotence of the Obama/Kerry crew perfectly:

Just to reiterate what happened here: A barbarian regime seized an American’s family and jailed them – and throughout their imprisonment no one in the United States Government did anything and neither the President nor his Secretary of State said a word. The British and Canadians helped, and the Italians sent a government plane and the deputy foreign minister. The Pope had time for the Wani family, but not President Fundraiser.

Meanwhile, the last remaining Christians are being forced to leave Mosul, a city that was once considered the heart of Christendom in Mesopotamia. And so it goes.

[* I am willing to concede that there exists the possibility that the Obama Administration worked relentlessly behind the scenes to secure the release of Ms. Ibrahim and her children, but thought that taking a strong public stance would complicate their efforts. Perhaps they coordinated very closely with the British, Canadians, and Italians on this matter, and someday the truth will come out and we will see that they deserve a great deal of the credit for convincing Sudan to release her. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Still, if I had to bet in this matter, I would put my money down on passivity and fecklessness by the administration where radical Islam is involved. If it can’t be accomplished with drones, this President doesn’t seem to want to try.]


Video: Key ObamaCare Drafter Says in 2012 That You Don’t Get Subsidies on Federal Exchanges – Updated with more video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

Bring out the flaming skull, or the nuclear bomb, or the siren, or whatever mental image you prefer to accompany Big News:

[I]n January 2012, Jonathan Gruber—an MIT economics professor whom the The New York Times has called “Mr. Mandate” for his pivotal role in helping the Obama administration and Congress draft the Affordable Care Act—told an audience at Noblis that:

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.

Boom. Watch it yourself:

The relevant part of the video is at 31:25. You can skip ahead in the video above, or can automatically start it there by clicking this link.

That’s what we lawyers call a “statement against interest.”

Here’s a quote from the New York Times article that calls this fellow “Mr. Mandate”:

After Mr. Gruber helped the administration put together the basic principles of the proposal, the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.

Might be a good idea to ask this guy why it says “exchange established by the state,” huh? I have a weird hunch he might know. But probably doesn’t want to say . . .

(H/t RB Pundit on Twitter.)

UPDATE: IT WAS A PUN! Ha. He now says that he can’t figure out why he said that, and that it must’ve been a mistake. Well, sure. For lefty ideologues like Gruber, it’s usually a mistake when they tell the truth.

He should apply to be a White House Press Secretary. He lies poorly.


More video with prepared remarks where he speak-o’ed.

Even JournLista hack Weigel had to acknowledge this.

Quick Links I Have Meant to Blog

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Which means some of them are a day or two old. Mom’s in town, so that takes precedence.


Ezra Klein assures you that Halbig is not going to destroy ObamaCare:

The Halbig case could destroy Obamacare. But it won’t. The Supreme Court simply isn’t going to rip insurance from tens of millions of people in order to teach Congress a lesson about grammar.

. . . .

For Halbig to unwind Obamacare the Supreme Court would ultimately have to rule in the plaintiff’s favor. And they’re not going to do that. By the time SCOTUS even could rule on Halbig the law will have been in place for years. The Court simply isn’t going to rip insurance from tens of millions of people due to an uncharitable interpretation of congressional grammar.

He doesn’t predict anything; rather, he Voxsplains how the future will inevitably turn out. It’s typical Klein: snotty, super-confident, and probably wrong. As I have said, I think Justice Roberts and four other Justices will uphold the Halbig decision. I disagreed with Roberts’s initial ObamaCare decision, because I thought the penalty was a penalty — but I think his opinion was principled. Y’all are free to disagree. We’ll see in, what? Two years or so?


Jamelle Bouie at Slate assures you that, even if subsidies are not available under federally established exchanges, Republicans will pay the price:

Of course, what is bad could become catastrophic if the unlikely happens and conservatives prevail at the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court. There have been tweaks and changes, but in the nearly eight decades we’ve had a welfare state, middle-class Americans have never lost an entitlement. And indeed, our largest and most popular programs—Social Security and Medicare—are nearly untouchable. Even anti-entitlement crusaders like Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have been forced to pose as protectors when appealing to the public.

Simply put, a Republican Party that demolishes Obamacare isn’t one that regains a governing majority—it’s one that throws the health care system into chaos and destroys itself as a viable national party.

“Middle-class Americans have never lost an entitlement.” True enough. It’s about damned time they did.


Perry says illegal aliens have committed a $#!&-ton of crime in Texas:

Sean, there have been over the course of the last five years, since the fall of ’08, over 203,000 individuals who have come into Texas illegally who have been booked into our county jails. Those individuals have accounted for over 3,000 homicides and over 8,000 sexual assaults. We can’t afford to wait for Washington to secure this border. We’ve had enough.

Appalling, if true. But is it true? I’m not sure. According to the stats I see here, that’s almost half the murders that have occurred in Texas over the last five years. I count 6223 murders from 2008-2012 (which appears to be the most recent year for which statistics are available) and 38,185 rapes in that same time period. Perry has illegals committing half the murders and about 1/5 of the rapes.

I’m slightly skeptical that illegal aliens are responsible for that high a percentage of the murders. But it may be closer to that percentage than I think — and any number is a problem we shouldn’t have to deal with.


ObamaCare is open to fraud:

An undercover operation found that the majority of fake Obamacare applications submitted were approved by the health law’s enrollment system.

Fake applicants were able to get subsidized insurance coverage in 11 of 18 attempts, according to a report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The agency conducted the sting operation to test the strength of the Affordable Care Act’s eligibility-verification system.

Shocking that an entitlement might be rife with fraud, isn’t it?

Answer Meee These Questions, Uh, Two

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:08 am

1) What color is a yield sign?

2) How old are you?

Don’t look at anyone else’s answer until you have formulated your own answer in your head, and left it in the comments. You needn’t answer #2 if it’s too personal.

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