Jonathan Gruber’s comments that ObamaCare was designed to take advantage of the “stupidity of the American voter” were “very harmful politically to the president,” former White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

“It’s not good,” Carney said during an appearance on CNN. “It doesn’t help when someone who helped write not only ObamaCare, the president’s Affordable Care Act, but the precursor to it, which was Gov. [Mitt] Romney’s healthcare reform initiative in Massachusetts, speaks from the ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and, by extension, the American Congress.”


Gruber made dismissive remarks in a series of academic lectures, including claiming the Affordable Care Act was a “tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.”

“If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” Gruber said.

He went on to say the bill might also have lost political momentum if voters realized that in insurance plans, healthier individuals pay more to subsidize the sick, who cost more to insure.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber continued. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

Carney said that “the fact is any health care reform that sought to control costs and expand insurance would involve winners and losers.”

But he said the fact Gruber had framed the remark in an incendiary way in multiple forums meant it would have “resonance” and meant the White House “had to respond.”

Earlier Thursday, Carney’s successor, press secretary Josh Earnest, told reporters he disagreed “vigorously” with Gruber’s comments. He went on to praise the law for driving down insurance costs and allowing more Americans to purchase coverage.

“They’re doing what they have to do, which is say, ‘Look, forget about what this player in the drawing of the bill has to say about it, and his opinion about it, here are the facts,’ ” Carney said.