Gruber Apologizes Before House Committee

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from The Wall Street Journal,

MIT Economist Says His Remarks About Obamacare Passage Were Demeaning.

Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist whose remarks about the federal health-care law sparked a political furor, apologized to Congress Tuesday for “offending” comments that he said were insulting and mean.

Mr. Gruber testified with Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Republicans had criticized both for statements they say show a pattern of deception by the Obama administration in passing and implementing the 2010 law.

Mr. Gruber, who provided computer modeling on the impact of the Affordable Care Act for the administration, touched off criticism recently after a video surfaced from 2013 in which he said the health-care law passed in part because of the “huge political advantage” conferred by the legislation’s lack of transparency. He also referred to the “stupidity of the American voter.”

“I sincerely apologize both for conjecturing with a tone of expertise and for doing so in such a disparaging fashion,” Mr. Gruber said. “It is never appropriate to try to make oneself seem more important or smarter by demeaning others. I know better. I knew better. I am embarrassed, and I am sorry.”

Both Republicans and Democrats sharply criticized Mr. Gruber for his comments. The remarks reveal “a pattern of intentional misleading” of the public about the Affordable Care Act, said Rep. Darrel Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the committee.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, said Mr. Gruber’s statements “gave Republicans a public-relations gift in their relentless political campaign to tear down the ACA and eliminate health care for millions of Americans.”

Mr. Gruber’s comments and the enrollment data have embarrassed the administration, detracting from a largely smooth launch of the ACA’s second enrollment season which runs through Feb. 15. In a sign of how the administration is trying to distance itself from Mr. Gruber, it sought to keep Ms. Tavenner from having to sit next to him at the hearing. They ended up sitting together anyway.

“We believe this is a perfect pairing of individuals who are responsible for what we know and don’t know before, after, and during passage of the ACA,” said Mr. Issa.

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