Congressional Republicans will get an opportunity to interview the man who was caught on video saying “the stupidity of the American voter” helped pass U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. Jonathan Gruber, a consultant who helped model the Affordable Care Act, will testify before the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington Tuesday.
GOP leaders are already salivating at the opportunity. Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the committee, said panel members will ask Gruber about possible deceptions and a lack of transparency in the 2010 law, aka Obamacare.
“If you can’t trust what he says, and what he says he’ll do, to get votes and trick the American people into voting for something, then can you trust his analytics?” Issa said of Gruber, adding he believes the public deserves an explanation from the consultant at the hearing.
“It is our job to see that the administration is working to run the country and that they are reporting honestly their successes and their failures,” Issa told Reuters.
It also appears Gruber will have to face the committee alone. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner was originally set to join Gruber, but Jim R. Esquea, the assistant secretary for legislation at CMS, requested Thursday that Tavenner not testify, CBS News reported.
Republicans and conservative media outlets have seized on videos of Gruber, a health-care economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped design former Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law and was brought on by the Obama administration as a consultant for its own initiative. In addition to calling voters stupid, Gruber was seen in other videos saying the law was written in a “very tortured way” to hide taxes.
Republicans said Gruber’s comments showed the administration deceived Americans when it passed the law. Americans For Prosperity, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, used his remarks in ads against Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu in her runoff election for the U.S. Senate, Reuters noted. Landrieu lost the contest to Rep. Bill Cassidy by a double-digit percentage Saturday.
Democrats have distanced themselves from Gruber since the release of the videos. Obama referred to him as “some adviser who never worked on our staff” who “expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with,” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was House speaker when the ACA passed, said she didn’t know who he was, despite having praised his work in 2009, as reported by the Washington Post.