White House: GOP fanning 'stupidity' flames for political advantage

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Republicans are hyping past comments from ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber as a way to distract from what’s going well for the healthcare law. 

After saying that Gruber’s view that the healthcare law passed partly because of the “stupidity” of the American voter is not shared by “anybody at the White House,” Earnest challenged claims that ObamaCare was not passed in a transparent way.

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He also suggested that few Americans are paying attention to the controversy. 

“People are understandably pretty tired of relitigating all the fights from 2009 and 2010,” Earnest said Tuesday at his daily press briefing.

“Some Republicans are fanning the flames of those old political arguments because it's politically advantageous. It's easier for them to talk about six- to eight-year-old videos than to talk about how the open enrollment period has gone smoothly so far, or the millions who have gotten health insurance.

“I don't believe there's a particularly large audience among the American people [for the Gruber dispute],” he added. 

Gruber, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been in hot water since last week when several old gaffes related to ObamaCare went viral. 

In the videos, Gruber said the “stupidity of the American voter” contributed to the passage of the law and that a “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” He later apologized in an interview with MSNBC.

The issue has lit up conservative media as outlets hunt for additional clips that could bolster their criticism of ObamaCare’s passage. 

Gruber's remarks have also put pressure on Democrats to explain how close he was to the legislative process. 

Leaders have taken different approaches to answering the question. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that she didn't know who Gruber was, though she had previously touted his work. 

President Obama dismissed Gruber over the weekend as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.”

Earnest sought to thread the needle Tuesday by calling Gruber an “adviser” who was focused on the economics of healthcare, not communications or legislative strategy. 

“It wasn't his responsibility to try to figure out how to get this bill through,” Earnest said. 

“It also, I think, is why it's pretty clear that the views that he's articulated do not reflect what happened.” 

At least one Republican — Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program Trump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Ky.) — has called for a probe of Gruber's federal consulting payments.