Gruber frequently visited White House

The ObamaCare consultant drawing fire for mocking the “stupidity of the American voter” visited the White House on nearly two dozen occasions and met with President Obama in the West Wing, according to a review of visitor logs.

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber held a series of high-level meetings with administration officials beginning in 2009 and extending through June of this year.

{mosads}During the height of 2009’s ObamaCare debate, Gruber met repeatedly with former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, and Jeanne Lambrew, the deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform, among other officials. He also participated in a meeting of economists with President Obama.

In subsequent trips, Gruber received tours of the West Wing and the residence, and had breakfast at the White House mess, an exclusive West Wing cafeteria. He also met with Jason Furman, who now chairs the Council of Economic Advisers, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House’s point person on ObamaCare’s implementation.

The visitor logs, which are publicly available but were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, show Gruber has visited the White House 21 times during the Obama presidency. Some of the records are incomplete — missing details about when Gruber entered or exited the complex — so it’s possible that some of those visits did not occur.

The visits are also likely to generate new questions for the administration, which has worked hard to distance themselves from Gruber since his comments first surfaced.

At a press conference in Australia over the weekend, Obama dismissed Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” Press secretary Josh Earnest said he disagreed “vigorously” with Gruber’s comments.

In a series of academic lectures, Gruber said the ObamaCare bill was a “tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes,” essentially acknowledging that Democrats spun the penalties associated with the individual mandate as a fine, rather than a tax, for political reasons.

“If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” Gruber said. “So it’s written to do that.”

Gruber 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.”

Gruber later apologized for the comments in an interview with MSNBC.

“The comments in the video were made at an academic conference,” Gruber said. “I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments.”

Allies of President Obama have acknowledged that the comments have done some harm. 

A new Gallup poll released Monday showed approval of ObamaCare at an all-time low, with 37 percent of respondents saying they approved of the law and 56 percent saying they disapproved.

“It’s not good,” former White House press secretary Jay Carney told 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. Romney’s health care reform initiative in Massachusetts, speaks from the ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and, by extension, the American Congress.”

Tags Barack Obama Jonathan Gruber ObamaCare

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