The question of whether Jonathan Gruber is an architect of Obamacare has, I think, been settled. But in case there’s any doubt, a memo by Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, should erase it.
According to Patrick Hawley of the Daily Caller, the Cutter memo was prepared in advance of Obama’s first debate with Mitt Romney. In relevant part, it states:
So, what’s the net impact of Romney’s plans? According to a report prepared by Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of both Romney’s Massachusetts plan and Obamacare, it would nearly double premiums and out-of-pocket costs in the individual market – raising them by 92 percent, or an extra $5,496 – as compared to the President’s plan. At the same time, an additional 51 million Americans would be uninsured.
The memo was written and distributed to “interested parties,” including the media. It belies Obama’s characterization of Gruber as ““some adviser who never worked on our staff.” If that’s all Gruber was, Cutter wouldn’t have called him an architect of Obamacare — in fact she wouldn’t have touted him to the media at all.
Gruber’s status as “architect” of Obamacare is relevant not just for the purpose of discrediting Obama’s characterization of him. It is relevant to a vital Supreme Court case (King v. Burwell) that presents the question of whether subsidies are available to people who obtain health insurance through the federal exchange.
The plain language of the statute says that subsidies are available only to those enrolled in state exchanges. But the Obama administration insists that such a provision would make no sense given the purposes of the statute, and thus can’t have been what Congress legislated.
Gruber, though, has explained that the language making subsidies available only on state exchanges serves a purpose — to induce states to create exchanges. Gruber thus refutes the administration’s argument that the provision in question, interpreted consistently with its plain language, makes no statutory sense.
Gruber’s status as an architect of Obamacare, not just some adviser who never worked on the staff, lends weight to Gruber’s reconciliation of the plain language with the purposes of the statute. And that reconciliation may signal the demise of Obamacare.
UPDATE: Here is the full text of Cutter’s memo.