ObamaCare architect: I regret 'stupidity' of voter comment

An architect of ObamaCare on Tuesday said he regretted his 2013 comment that a "lack of transparency" and the "stupidity of the American voter" helped Congress pass the healthcare law.

ADVERTISEMENT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber made his first public comments on MSNBC after conservative media unearthed a video clip over the weekend of him discussing the healthcare law.

"The comments in the video were made at an academic conference," Gruber said on "Ronan Farrow Daily." "I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments."

Gruber was speaking on a panel last year when he suggested that ObamaCare passed because lawmakers and voters did not understand how its financing worked.

"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber said at the time. "And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass."

Gruber also said that ObamaCare was written in a "tortured way" to avoid a bad score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). And he suggested that voters would have rejected the law if penalties for being uninsured were interpreted as a tax.

"If CBO scored the [individual] mandate as taxes, the bill dies," Gruber said.

"If you had a law that made it explicit that healthy people are going to pay in and sick people are going to get subsidies, it would not have passed," he added.

The clip is generating significant attention on the right.

On Tuesday, Gruber said he only meant that much of ObamaCare's financing was done through the tax code, calling that more "politically palatable" than other means.

"That was the only point I was making," he said.

A consultant on both the federal and Massachusetts healthcare reform laws, Gruber also predicted that 2015 exchange enrollments will exceed the administration's target of 9.1 million.

"The administration is being conservative," he said. "I believe the number is likely to be higher than that."