By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog
A video from Vermont shows Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber mocking a Vermonter who expressed concern about single-payer health care.
In the 2011 video shot by TrueNorthReports.com and sent to Watchdog.org on Thursday, Gruber appears before the Vermont House Health Care Committee to present recommendations for a universal, publicly financed health care program. The recommendations were part of the 2011 “Hsiao Report” submitted to the Legislature by economist William C. Hsiao and co-written by Gruber.
As Gruber sits listening, the committee chair reads a comment from a Vermonter who expresses concern that the economist’s plan might lead to “ballooning costs, increased taxes and bureaucratic outrages,” among other things.
After hearing the Vermonter’s worries, Gruber responds, “Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?”
The remark was met with uproarious laughter.
The video is the fifth in string of videos to surface this week in which Gruber publicly mocks citizens or boasts of his use of deception in crafting health care policies. Gruber is being paid $400,000 by the state of Vermont to advise Gov. Peter Shumlin on how to finance Act 48, Vermont’s single-payer health care law. His recommendations will be presented to the Vermont Legislature in January.
Contrary to Gruber’s snarky insult, the comment was not written by an adolescent.
“It was actually written by a former senior policy adviser in the White House who knew something about health care systems,” said John McClaughry, a two-term Vermont state senator and adviser to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
McClaughry, who wrote the comment in an op-ed weeks before the 2011 committee meeting, told Vermont Watchdog he did not know Gruber made the condescending insult. However, he was aware of other videos discovered this week in which Gruber boasted of writing deceptive policies to trick “stupid” American voters.
“No one should trust this man. … Based on the rest of the stuff that’s come out on the videos, nobody can trust this guy. He has no use for transparency, he thinks people are stupid, and he’ll do anything to get this thing through and pocket his $400,000. That’s not in the interest of the people of Vermont,” McClaughry said.
Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, told Vermont Watchdog on Wednesday he was “appalled” by Gruber’s public comments and would review the economist’s role with the state.
State Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, a member of the Health Care Oversight Committee, called on the Shumlin administration to terminate Gruber’s contract.
Shumlin did not respond to Watchdog’s request for comment.
According to information obtained from the Agency of Administration, Vermont has paid Gruber $160,000 since July 21, when he started his work as the Shumlin administration’s health care financing guru.
Gruber is providing policy expertise, research and economic modeling related to the implementation of Green Mountain Care, Vermont’s state-financed health care system.
Gruber conferences weekly with top Shumlin administration officials to discuss findings and review progress on project goals.
According to recent White House visitor logs, Gruber also continues to meet with White House officials. Gruber has visited White House officials on 15 occasions since 2009 — two of the visits occurred in January of this year. Gruber’s only recorded private meeting with President Obama was July 20, 2009, when the two were joined by Harvard economist David Cutler, a Gruber collaborator.
McClaughry said he didn’t take offense at Gruber’s remarks, though he noted the economist’s lack of professionalism.
“Gruber could have said, ‘I think that’s an unduly pessimistic view of the matter. We can do better than what that person projects.’ That would have been alright, if predictable.”
As for the ridicule on display in the video, McClaughry responded, “The people who laughed aren’t going to be laughing when it’s over, if we ever get to the unfortunate implementation of this. … He’s not playing straight with the American people or Vermonters.”
[Note: True North Reports video work was shot by Angela Chagnon]
Contact Bruce Parker at [email protected]