Obamacare Architect Jon Gruber Says Deceiving Americans Necessary to Pass Bill

Nothing like the American policy elite showing its true colors.

This recently-posted video (hat tip Daily Signal) shows Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber matter-of-factly stating that an honestly and simply described Obamacare would not have passed Congress. Preying on “the stupidity of the American voter” was necessary to get the bill passed. Of course, Gruber deems that to be a good thing. And similar well-intentioned policy wonks brought us bank deregulation, which ultimately produced the financial crisis, “free trade,” which is actually managed trade designed around the interests of American multinationals, and our Middle Eastern adventurism, among other things.

Gruber is yet another case study in the Upton Sinclair saying, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on his not understanding it.” In Gruber’s case, a “transparent” Obamacare bill would have made the enrichment of Big Pharma and the health insurers more visible. The idea of universal healthcare, which also involves the healthy paying for the sick, is popular all over the world. Most people understand that even if they are healthy now, they can in short order be among those needing big ticket health care if they have a too-close encounter with a rapidly moving vehicle. So Gruber’s excuse ins’t just patronizing, it’s dishonest.

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    1. Chris Sturr

      Except that Gruber and the other consultants (William Hsiao and Steven Kappel) actually recommended single-payer for Vermont. Unless there’s something compromised about the version of single-payer they recommended? Physicans for a National Health Program seemed to like their proposal, e.g., http://www.pnhp.org/news/2011/february/hsiao-single-payer-savings-are-conservative. Not that this excuses Gruber’s role in Obamacare or what he said at that conference, which was pure, anti-democratic, technocratic arrogance.

      1. Lambert Strether

        IIRC, Hsiao was the driver on the single payer recommendation; Gruber was brought in later as an expert in how to pay for it. Vermonters, please correct me if I am wrong…

      2. Jeff W

        Unless there’s something compromised about the version of single-payer they recommended? Physicans for a National Health Program seemed to like their proposal…

        I don’t recall the precise details regarding whether the version they recommended differed from the version that was actually passed in Vermont, if it did at all, but the Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP] definitely had reservations about what was passed in Vermont and said it “falls well short of the single-payer reform.” See this press release “Vermont health bill mislabeled ‘single payer’: doctors group” and this blog post by one of the board members, both from 2011.

        And just about a year ago, at an annual meeting for PNHP, Dr. David Himmelstein, one of the organization’s founders, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin “got into it”:

        “In fact, you are not going to be able to enact a single payer program,” Himmelstein told Shumlin during the question and answer period.

        “Yeah we are,” Shumlin shot back.

        “Well, by definition, if you’ve got Medicare, Tricare –” Himmelstein said.

        “You have written us off before we have tried,” Shumlin responded.

        “No, no,” Himmelstein said. “I’m actually just saying what’s true. And that is, you can have a publicly financed program, and as Deb [Richter] said, it won’t be single payer. It will be enormous progress. But let’s not confuse it with single payer because you will give up much of the advantage of the single payer program.”

        1. Chris Sturr

          Interesting–thanks, Jeff. I am not surprised. I am on the PNHP email list but didn’t follow their stance on VT carefully enough. It is a shame that they hired Gruber et al. to do the study.

  1. YankeeFrank

    What a twerp. People like him should be tied to weather balloons and floated up into the stratosphere like in that episode of Gotham.

    1. dearieme

      “an honestly and simply described Obamacare would not have passed Congress”: I take it that that is a pretty accurate assessment, though?

      1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

        Don’t take this seriously. The Ds could have passed Medicare for All anytime. All they needed to do was to get rid of the filibuster so they could take at least 8 blue dog defections and still pass it. When they briefly had 60 Democrats, they could have survived 10 blue dog defections and still passed it. And Reid could have derailed many of those defections by threatening to remove the offenders from their Committee assignments including Chairpersonships. He never did any of that, because he thought the filibuster was worth the bones of many Americans. Do any of us agree? Does any sane person agree?

  2. jrs

    If it isn’t Leo Strauss. Of course all the conservatives jumping on this Gruber quote won’t remember the endless discussion of “Straussian” influence on W and his band of neoconservative buddies back in the day (and vice versa? I don’t know).

    But anyway the healthy paying in and the sick getting money is actually a characteristic not just of socialized medicine but also *ALL* insurance, even all private insurance BEFORE the ACA. Healthy people paid in more, sick people got out more. And very few object to some form of this. So perhaps those terms “healthy” and sick” and really used to hide the unsaid terms: “rich” and “poor”.

      1. lambert strether

        The ACA seems designed to foment discord along any axis you choose to name, including quite explicitly by income, due to the graduated subsidies and the Medicaid bubble, against over-55s forced into Medicaid, against under 65s, since everyone should get Medicare, against the self- or casually employed, against people in non-Medicaid states. etc.

        It is true that that when Democrats turned themselves into insurance salesmen, they spoke of the young subsidizing the old, but (a) that’s a sloppy proxy for the healthy subsidizing the not healthy, and (b) the only kind of politics democrats know how to practice is identity politics, so that’s what they would say. (I mean, they don’t say whites subsidize blacks, even though that’s just as (il)logical as young subsidizing old.)

        1. diptherio

          True, true. Not trying to fan the flames or anything.

          And what’s with dividing people into “healthy” and “sick” categories, anyway? As if a person is either one or the other. In my life, I’ve been both at one time or another…I imagine others have had the same experience…

          1. MaroonBulldog

            Q: What’s a medical doctor’s idea of a healthy patient?
            A. A patient who hasn’t been sufficiently worked up.

    1. Eric377

      No, that’s not actually what happens, although I understand why people might think this. All the insured get insurance equally if they have the same policy specifics. The thing purchased is insurance, not $8000 of chemo or any other specific valid claim an insured party might make under the terms of the insurance. Once a premium is paid it is no longer the money of the person who paid it, but rather the insurer’s. The biggest and increasing problem with commercial health insurance is that health risk is increasingly understood. Understanding risk is good for helping people but very bad for trying to fund healthcare with commercially sold insurance. Prior to birth, any child might be supposed vulnerable to autism, but with attentive parents and competent pediatricians not having it diagnosed by age 6 is nearly the same as never having it diagnosed. How do you fund autism therapy via insurance when 98% of people know for 92% of their life they do not and will not have it? Answer is that you do not do it well, for sure.

    2. Eric377

      Yes but pre-ACA people had greater liberty to buy less comprehensive plans. Insuring yourself against risks you feel you are not exposed to is what is aggrevating many. But broad coverage is critical to making insurance affordable for those who have risk profiles that do expose them to conditions many others would opt out of. In the end I foresee ever more public funding of healthcare as risks get even better understood and more conditions will have effective, but possibly very costly, therapies. It just is against human nature to understand that you won’t need coverage for conditions A, E, G, N and R but be expected to pony up $87,000 over your lifetime for the coverage anyway. Public funding as a public good eventually will dominate, which is one reason ACA is so reviled by Republicans generally as it is a good-sized step in that direction.

  3. diptherio

    I have a feeling that Mr. John Gruber will be one of the first people up against the wall when the revolution comes…so to speak.

    First, he went and shilled for the ACA in every news outlet that would give him space, supposedly as an independent expert, without mentioning that he had been paid ~$400,000 to “advise” the administration. Oops. Then he did a little flip-flopping on what the effects of the Act were likely to be on the cost of premiums:

    Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law, Gruber published a widely-cited analysis, using his Gruber Microsimulation Model, in which he asserted that in 2016, young people would save 13 percent, and older people 31 percent, on their insurance premiums. Gruber’s numbers were used to rebut an October 2009 analysis from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which projected that non-group (a.k.a. individual-market) premiums would increase by 47 percent over the same period.

    Ezra [Klein] called the PwC report “deceptive.” Jonathan Cohn, noting that the report was commissioned by the insurer trade group, AHIP, described it as “the insurance industry declaring war.” After Obamacare was signed into law, Cohn described the Gruber-led counterattack against PwC as a turning point in the fight to get the bill passed:


    As states began the process of considering whether or not to set up the insurance exchanges mandated by the new health law, several retained Gruber as a consultant. In at least three cases—Wisconsin in August 2011, Minnesota in November 2011, and Colorado in January 2012—Gruber reported that premiums in the individual market would increase, not decrease, as a result of Obamacare.

    In Wisconsin, Gruber reported that people purchasing insurance for themselves on the individual market would see, on average, premium increases of 30 percent by 2016, relative to what would have happened in the absence of Obamacare. In Minnesota, the law would increase premiums by 29 percent over the same period. Colorado was the least worst off, with premiums under the law rising by only 19 percent.


    Hell has a special place reserved for douche-bags like Gruber. Now, where did I put that pitchfork…

    1. Dino Reno

      Not wanting to be left out during the Christmas rush, I went ahead and ordered four Gruber Microsimulation Models on Amazon for all the nieces and nephews. I know the kids will have a blast calculating all kinds of things that will happen to them in the future like unaffordable college expenses and vanishing opportunity costs. Years from now they will be thanking their Uncle Dino for preparing them for a life full of those hard knocks I warned them about. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

      1. diptherio


        I got one off the MIT on-line store for my four year old nephew. He wasn’t that into it until I showed him how to use it. I entered his data into it (age, location, interests) and pushed the big red button. There were flashing lights, bells, whistles–the whole works–then it went “DING!” and output the little tyke’s probable future employment: Cowboy-Astronaut! My nephew thought it was pretty cool after that.

        But now I’m starting to think I might have got sent a faulty one, because just this morning I put my nephew’s info into the GMSM again, to show a friend how it worked, and after all the flashing lights and the DING!, it said he was going to become a convenience-store clerk…weird, right?

    2. Bridget

      Ah yes, the two Jonathans. Cohn and Gruber, both of whom said that the Obamacare subsidies were only intended for exchanges established by the states, before they said otherwise.

    3. bh2

      “I have a feeling that Mr. John Gruber will be one of the first people up against the wall when the revolution comes…so to speak.”

      More likely he’ll be one of the elite vanguard pulling the trigger.

      Anyone watching the ACA circus had to know it was all smoke and mirrors and the math didn’t work. Who is surprised that Mr. Gruber now boasts that his lot are proud and deliberate liars?

  4. Kim Kaufman

    They lied to get TARP through, also. And remember Bush’s clever but deceptive names for some of his bills? I can’t remember exactly but there was stuff like “Healthy Skies” to allow more pollution, “More Better Trees” to allow more clear-cutting and, of course, “No Child Left Behind” – which wasn’t a lie as long as the child is white and middle class and privatizers own all the testing profits. And, of course, they’re not even going to let anyone see the TPP bill – they can’t lie enough to pass it if anyone actually reads it.

    1. diptherio

      You are quite correct. Lack of transparency is, as Gruber puts it, a huge political advantage. Without transparency, you can say anything at all about your policy (or your candidate) and no one can check to see if the facts match what you’re saying. Hence, all policy debates turn into a “he said/she said” back-and-forth, with no way to determine who is full of BS or to what degree. So most people just default to accepting whatever the party they most identify with is saying. Our incredibly childish political discourse is one result–a bunch of crappified policies are another.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Actually, they didn’t lie very well. Everyone knew the bill made no sense and it was written as an open power grab. It was utterly astonishing.

      It was not passed due to the lying. It passed because it was voted down the first time and the markets tanked. And then Obama, who was president presumptive, whipped for it. So unlike Obamacare, there was not much in the way of illusion as to what it was about. The public was deeply opposed to it even on the second vote but Congress, which is much more mindful of the speculating classes than the general citizenry, came around.

      1. dearieme

        “Everyone knew the bill made no sense”: and yet, Yves, some people who pointed that out were damn near accused of being Nazis for saying so.

        1. hunkerdown

          Like Lambert said above, the only kind of politics Democrats perform is identity politics, so why not?

          To my erstwhile True Democrat friend, “It’s a shame to have to end a 25-year friendship with this, but I’m not pulling you off any lamp post.”

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The November elections were also set in stone at that point. Incumbents knew the vote wouldn’t save or oust them.

        1. Kim Kaufman

          OK, Yves is right (as usual). However, they lied about it. And only later did we know exactly how much they lied about it. Just because people knew it was a lie doesn’t mean they didn’t lie to get it passed. And, yeah, sure, Obama was in on the con.

      3. Pitchfork

        Yeah, I kinda remember this episode. To be clear, they didn’t lie about what was in the bill so much as why it was needed (e.g., the ATMs will run dry, money market funds will tank, it’ll be like the 16th century [Paulson], and we’ll all be fighting in the streets over scraps of rat meat). Much of what TARP did could have been accomplished (or already had been accomplished, e.g. Treasury backing for MMFs) by other means. What TARP accomplished was to pave the way for the CPP, which basically assured that the big boys would be bailed out come hell or high water. “We don’t want to lose our investment in Citi, do we?!”

    1. Trent

      Why? Why would you need to see this video to confirm what you already know? After 2008, why would you ever believe anything the government tells you again? The mask came off, we know what the true agenda is, anything else trotted out is fluff. I was saying at the time of the healthcare law it was just a distraction, 2008 was still to fresh in everyones mind. When Nancy Pelosi said “we’ll have to pass it to find out whats in it” you didn’t question the law then?

      1. trent

        “Well, I have obviously made a decision to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse. I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system. I think when people review what’s taken place in the last six months, uh, and put it all in one, in one, (sigh), you know, in one package, they’re realize how significantly we have moved.”

      2. Code Name D

        Agreed. This was an open secret, even during “the debate” for the ACA. It was practically a talking point. One that I bumped up against over and over again at the time. So nothing here is new.

        And the argument is exactly has he said it is. If the people know what’s in it, they will not support it. So you keep its contents a secret and simply ram it down their throat, secure in the knowledge that they will come to love it in time. This is what we mean by “retail politics.”

        1. Lambert Strether

          It was certainly true that the CBO scoring was a big part of the game, and “game” is the word I want.

          Which was nutty as public policy, and skewed against single payer from the start, since many of the cost savings of single payer accrue to society as a whole, and do not appear in the Federal budget, and so do not show up in CBO scoring.

          So asshats like Gruber who accepted the rules of that game instead of trying to change them have a lot to answer for.

    2. jgordon

      Why? I knew in 2009 that the ACA was a scam the very first time I heard the word “mandate” associate with it. All those rooting for it at the time (and now, of course there still are plenty on the “left”) were/are deliberately ignorant or delusional. And helpfully pointing out people’s ignorance/delusions so that they can correct them has very little affect in actual practice. Psychology will always trump economics.

  5. PaulArt

    ” The idea of universal healthcare, which also involves the healthy paying for the sick, is popular all over the world.”

    The ‘world’ is not America and Americans. America since its founding has managed to breed a unique kind of species of Homo Sapien which is driven purely by selfishness and greed. The New Deal reinforced this sub-species by providing them with Social Security and Medicare, pensions and Glass-Steagall. They turned around and screwed the rest of us and they are still screwing the rest of us. They taught their children and grandchildren the virtue of selfishness and fed them the milk of racist hate, bigotry and Christian religious fundamentalism.
    A lot of the worthies in the Democratic party are from this same group. Jimmy Carter was the first High Priest. Even today he never speaks out. Ditto for the Clintons. When was the last time you heard Bill Clinton bad mouth Robert Rubin? The closest he came to was around 2008 when the finger was pointed to him and Rubin for financial deregulation and all he would say was, ‘the Republicans made me do it”.
    The Baby Boomers are the blight in our midst. We needed two wars and a generation of dirt poor cannon fodder between 1910-1950 to go through cruel laissez-faire capitalism and the violence of the wars to learn and understand what it is to give your neck to the yoke of the rich fat cat. Unfortunately the children of this cannon fodder (like Bill and Dubya) never studied the lessons of their parents except the main one of ‘how to get rich easy using your old man’s name and/or your Harvard contacts’.
    Similarly we will need one or two generations of cannon fodder (the ones today between the ages of 20-30) to struggle and have their faces ground into the dust with low wages, high unemployment and back breaking debt to realize what the game is and how it is rigged before they will breed a new set of leaders who will drive the money changers from the temple.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      While you make a fair point about America is the breeding ground for Homo Economicus, your generational trope is nonsense. Please identify the Boomer lobbying group. Or the the Millennial or Gen Y party. These are groups made up by marketers, the same way that marketers create geographic targets for direct mailing and they have names like “Stately Mansions” versus “Guns and Trailers”. I am not making that up, I’ve sat in on meetings where these models were discussed.

      One of the big architects of the “get your elders” campaign is Stan Druckenmiller, who was a big funder of Newt Gingrich and has long been one of the top Republican donors. Pete Peterson, another billionaire, has been spending huge amounts of money since the 1980s to gut Social Security. But no, you won’t recognize who your real enemies are, which is the members of the uber rich who aren’t satisfied with what they have and want to take even more from the rest of us.

      1. mn

        I have a silly question, after the market crash why the sudden rush to pass this of all that could have been done? Was this a tax payer funded bail-out of the insurance companies? Don’t they invest excess funds in the market? Were they as broke as the banks? This plan has been sitting around for years, yes.

      2. jgordon

        I have said this before but: I have a lot less trouble talking to young people about the inevitable decline of the American empire and the need for a return to a simplified, sustainable lifestyle than I have talking to boomers. That is not universally true of course, but it is mostly true.

        Most older people babble on about the imminent/ongoing return to prosperity and growth while younger people listening to them tend to have thoughts like “wtf are these people talking about”? This difference in attitudes (where it exists) naturally causes some “generational” conflict–although it is entirely possible of course for older people to be free of such delusional thinking and younger people to be so afflicted; that’s just not as common.

        1. flora

          gosh, people in their 50’s wanting a better life for their kids and grandkids.
          if you listen to the business pundits there IS growth, there IS increased productivity and prosperity. So why should kids give up on having prosperity and a better life?

          1. MaroonBulldog

            The world as a whole can grow a little more prosperous while the United States grows poorer. The world as a whole can advance a little while the United States declines a lot. After a lifetime of observation–I am 66 years it–I’ve come to think that that’s the way it’s got to be.

      3. Oregoncharles

        While I agree with the point you’re making, I do think generations matter. They have very different experiences. For instance, mine was shaped by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Do you remember that? We were terrified, watching a beloved president play chicken with our lives at stake. Then, of course, he was assassinated. It’s one reason for the uproar that followed. Another was growing up in a Golden Age.

        Once you get through that Golden Age, it’s all downhill, and that’s what subsequent generations have experienced. Of course their attitudes are different.

    2. lambert strether

      Thanks for sharing your hate. If you’d said “niggers are the blight in our midst,” people might comment, but your casual hate slips by unnoticed. A good deal of strategic hate management by people like Pete Peterson has been going on. Classic divide and conquer.

      1. McKillop

        My question concerns Mr. Gruber’s identfiication as a ‘boomer’ or ‘zoomer’ or whatever. Born myself in ;46, (conceived earlier) I certainly qualify as a member of the blighted. Mr. Gordon would do well do get new friends i those older people he speaks to fail him so badly.

    3. flora

      boomers – cause, like, no one in their 50’s has seen their factory shuttered and the jobs move offshore. no one in their 50’s has been laid off, watched their income drop, been unemployed, struggled to pay for their kid’s education. eh……

      1. jrs

        Well at least they had some good times before that happened, not so many people younger than that can say that.

        1. lordkoos

          We are all products of our time — boomers were lucky enough to be young during the peak of empire. (Except for the 60,000 who died in the Vietnam war. )

          It’s a bleak time to be a young adult, no doubt, but blaming that on the Boomers is BS.

          1. Lambert Strether

            It seems to me (thinking of Tahrir Square) that it takes 70-80% of the population to change a regime (and then the people who make the change have to know that they want to do with power, which the Tahrir Square people did not. Their one demand was to get rid of Mubarak, and that was not enough…) So, it seems to me the arithmetic is pretty clear, even accepting strategic hate management as a tactic: You don’t get to 70% – 80% thinking in terms of generations, even if generations had agency, which they don’t. You don’t get there with identity politics either, IMNSHO.

            1. hunkerdown

              Insightful. Ever wonder why Hollywood never shows any other kind of politics, except for “timed debate” politics or “gotcha” politics, mostly variations on the identity variety? Can’t have the people seeing the stuff that works…

    4. Oregoncharles

      BS. Issue polls have shown high majorities in favor of single payer, universal health insurance for decades. The politicians are ignoring them, is all. And most people vote based on personalities and party, not issues. If you want a fundamental flaw, that’s it.

    5. Erick Borling

      Paul that is pure pharmaceutical-grade nonsense. If you don’t make a great effort over many years, and experience life changes in which you can be said to “lose your religion,” there is no cure.

  6. flora

    More evidence that the Dem party no longer sees government as a counter balance to excessive corporate/financial power, or as a check on Wall St misdeeds. The modern neoliberal Dems, like the GOP, see government as an amplifier of Wall St power and enabler of Wall St. misdeeds. The hope for a health care law was that it would be a counter balance to predatory insurance. Instead, it’s an amplifier of that corporate power. There are no checks and balances.

    Teddy Roosevelt ( R ) broke up the Trusts. FDR (D) passed finance reform laws. Today both Dems and GOP are handmaidens of Wall St, while the country as a whole becomes unbalanced and unstable.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      I agree, Flora. There is presently no effective counter balance to corporate/financial power or their criminality. This is implicitly reflected in Gruber’s statement, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” This view is one of the most prominent characteristics of this administration and its immediate predecessors, along with their related “Messaging solves all problems”.

      At this point, I wonder who they think they’re fooling? Trust is gone. You can see it writ large across the political spectrum.

    2. jrs

      It’s doubtful there was ever really a counterbalance to business, they’ve always done the bidding of some of the big money interests. But somewhat better than the present perhaps. And not so finance dominated perhaps.

  7. Jim

    The average IQ of the American people is about 100 as compared with a world average of about 90. So in a global context the American people are not unusually stupid. Of course there is little incentive for most people to become well-acquainted with public policy issues since such knowledge would have little payoff in their personal lives.

    1. diptherio

      Are you being serious? For the life of me, I can’t tell. In case you are:

      When current IQ tests are developed, the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ 100 and scores each standard deviation (SD) up or down are defined as 15 IQ points greater or less, although this was not always so historically.[2] By this definition, approximately 95 percent of the population scores an IQ between 70 and 130, which is within two standard deviations of the mean.

      Got that? The median score for any population is defined as being 100. The median score for the global population is 100 by definition…eiiyeiiyeii…have you been reading The Bell Curve?

      1. Vatch

        An aside on The Bell Curve. A while ago, I was browsing in a book store, and I picked up a copy of the book, and opened it to its index. I tried to find references to “Lead poisoning” and “second language” or “native language”, but I didn’t see anything (I tried various related words, too). Lead poisoning can be significant, since flaking lead based paint in low income homes can be eaten by small children. This causes permanent brain damage, and could lead to incorrect assessments of a person’s native ability. And language is also significant, for if an IQ test is administered in something other than a person’s native language, the person will probably score lower than he or she should.

        Since I did not see any reference to these topics in the book’s index, I am very skeptical about the authors’ thesis.

    2. hunkerdown

      Not unusually stupid, just exceptionally American.

      You are aware that IQ tests are culturally-specific, right?

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    Not really understanding all the hubbub.

    Are there really people left who don’t know that this is the way every corporatist hack and political operative thinks, and that they have been using these completely accurate assessments to their advantage for decades now?

    What in the world did anyone think, “You have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” meant? That they value your keen analytical abilities and high “voter IQ?”

  9. AndyB

    The bigger picture is the global depopulation agenda, and a particular focus, by the elites, of incrementally killing off and dumbing down the American populace. Fluoridation (neurotoxic), chemtrails (also neurotoxic), vaccines with now a direct link to autism (from 1/10000 in 1960 to 1/50 births today), the death panels of the ACA (denial of life extending medication or procedures), the planned and purposeful education disaster and teaching methods and gradual marxist union takeover (remember when we were #1 globally in math and science?), the total Govt silence on the amount of Fukushima radiation hitting us on a daily basis (few born today will make it to age 40 without a bout of life threatening cancer), and the real biggie: GMO foods with inherent extremely toxic poisons.

    1. cripes

      Marxist union takeover?
      Some of your points are reasonably true, although unexceptional, but you completely sabotage yourself with foolish comments like that.
      Have you not noticed the unions in this country have been decimated and excluded from policy making, workers reduced to peonage and we are living the total rule of financial capitalism?
      If you think that’s marxism, you are sadly deluded.
      I suggest a little less writing and a lot more reading.
      In fact, give up the writing for now.

  10. Eclair

    On Sunday I talked for over 6 hours with a young New Zealander, who was seeing the US by taking Amtrak from coast to coast. We drank wine and discussed our countries, from landscape and climate to, finally, health care systems.

    NZ has single-payer, tax-funded,everyone covered, health care. And, being a small country, they have one layer of government, the federal. (Plus small municipal governments.) The government negotiates prices with the big drug companies so the ‘approved’ drugs cost only a few dollars. Office visits require a tiny co-pay. Private insurance is available; my ‘informant’ pays $400 per year, which would provide a private room if he required hospitalization and would pay for ‘non-approved’ drugs, which would seem to be those for rare, chronic illnesses.

    I then attempted to explain Obamacare to him, including the State vs the Federal computer marketplaces and the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. He simply could not understand why, when we had a successful single-payer system for seniors already in place, we just did not extend it to everyone. Then, I explained Medicaid. And how some State governors had rejected additional Federal assistance. He kept asking, ‘why would they want their poorer citizens to be denied health care?’ And, I had no good answers.

    He finally looked at me, with compassion and said, “Democracy really doesn’t scale.” I had another glass of wine.

    1. Banger

      Indeed! Democracy does not scale very well. It could scale if properly configured however. There is no reason why we could not have an effective system. In our case we need direct-democracy and the gradual elimination of legislatures. In the U.S. the old 18th-19th century structures that determine our fates has been thoroughly gamed and needs to be dismantled. I am now, after the spectacle of the utterly corrupt Obama administration and the total corruption of the Democratic Party, more sympathetic to the destructive forces within the Tea Party movement. But whatever the situation what is left of the real left needs to distance itself from the Democratic Party and go out into the wilderness.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Oddly, however, nobody answers whether markets scale well. The history of the neo-liberal dispensation that’s been running the world since the mid-70s would tend to answer “no.”

      2. jrs

        Yes direct democracy starts to make sense if you start to see the last 6 years as a perfectly sprung trap. We have a widespread rejection of Bush policies with the election of Obama (I don’t see Obama *himself* as that trap, people should have known better, his record and some of his positions was out there). Then we have horrible Obama policies for 6 years. And now we have a Republican majority that represents rejection of those policies, and they may have been voted for by whomever voted for them for any number of reasons, which one may not agree with, but which probably aren’t: passing trade deals that establish corporate rule, cutting Social Security etc. Because are any of those things popular with anyone? Democracy is corporate rule given the veneer of our consent any way you slice it. Have policies that deliberately make everyone poorer for 6 years and then wonder why people vote against them even if it’s to vote for people who will give the last shred of democratic accountability to the corporations in trade deals and all with “the consent of the people”. The road to hell is paved in democracy.

        1. hunkerdown

          Nah, that’s “representative democracy”, which is neither representative nor democratic, and they knew that. It’s only through 13 years of mandatory indoctrination that anyone thinks otherwise.

          Indeed, if we look at the initiatives that went through this last election, we might say that direct democracy is saner by far in both process and outcome.

    2. Jim

      As Aristotle noted democracy tends to exacerbate internal conflict. So it’s a disaster in places like the former Yugoslavia and doesn’t work all that well in large diverse countries such as the US ( note the Civil War). Small homogeneous countries like say Iceland or New Zealand are probably best suited for democracy.

      1. flora

        The economic problem is not caused by democracy.
        The economic problem is caused by unregulated/unrestrained corporate/finance.

      2. Eclair

        About two-thirds of New Zealanders class themselves as of white european descent. Other major groups are Maori, 15%: Asian, 12%, Pacific Islanders, 7%. I don’t know if you would consider that ‘homogeneous.’ Inhabitants of Iceland are pretty much 100% descended from European stock.

        1. Jim

          Few countries are as homogeneous as Iceland. New Zealand is definitely less homogeneous than Iceland. I’m not sure how much internal conflict there is in New Zealand but in general for places like the former Yugoslavia or present day Iraq where there is quite a bit of internal conflict democracy will greatly exacerbate such conflict.

          1. dsa

            NZ has a neoliberal immigration policy, which sells permanent status for investment, the belief is the investment drives growth. This is nonsense, of course; one only invests if they expect a return. The result is the small-business sector is almost exclusively Hindu and Chinese owned. The country has lost much of its homogeninity in the last fifteen years.

            1. Jim

              I hope for New Zealand’s sake that the Hindus are high-caste. If New Zealand immigration consists predominantly of Han Chinese and high-caste Hindus it is presumably of much higher human capital quality than the mass immigration of Mestizos into the US.

    3. Teejay

      “He kept asking, ‘why would they want their poorer citizens to be denied health care?’ And, I had no good answers.” Keeping them down. It’s seen as a zero sum game. We’ll stay up by keeping them down. Control, control, control. Overwhelming the states that rejected medicare expansion were poor southern states. Also racism plays into it too.

      1. lucky

        “He kept asking, ‘why would they want their poorer citizens to be denied health care?’ And, I had no good answers.”

        The answer is the poor aren’t worth the money it takes to keep them alive. They aren’t worth decent pay, or government provided subsides to make up the difference between what they earn and what they need.

        1. MaroonBulldog

          A commenter who gets it. Exposing those who believe that unemployment can be eliminated by extinguishing the unemployed.

          Reference: “A Tale of Ak and Humanity” by Efim Zozulya.

      2. Eclair

        One hates to admit to a ‘foreigner’ that many of our political leaders are arrogant, elitist, racist, misogynistic pigs, mainly interested in lining their own pockets and those of their elitist friends.

        I attempted to couch these realities in phrases that would not shock and disgust him.

      3. David

        So the answer to States that didn’t establish exchanges and expand Medicaid was because of racism? And because they wanted their poor denied coverage? That’s it and that’s all huh?

      4. cripes

        It was not accurately poor southern states that rejected medicaid, since the phrase suggests the population joins in the decision. It was the retarded governors. I suspect the citizens, excluding those deluded by wild propaganda of marxist takeovers and death panels, would prefer health care, certainly the under $14,000 crowd.

    4. susan the other

      “Democracy really doesn’t scale.” That’s a keeper. If it is democracy we want then we’re gonna have to scale back. Hello Texas, and Catalonia, and Scotland, Greece, Italy and on and on. All I’ve read lately is one analysis after another about how big government is a big oxymoron. Or perhaps just a moron. I don’t hear much analysis on the effectiveness of little government (New Zealand). There seems to be a blackout on solutions. It is almost like we are offering ourselves big government or nothing. And the big government that is being fed to us is actually no government at all. Obamacare is almost a perfect metaphor for all this shit.

      1. flora

        right. I remember about a year ago EU technocrats were saying that part of the economic problem in the imploding Eurozone was “too much democracy”. That democracy was incompatible with economic recovery. It was mostly TBTF bank friendly neo-liberals in and out of govt urging the abandonment of democracy.
        It’s telling whose promoting that baloney.

        1. flora

          another financial meltdown may generate politicians like Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. Politicians who don’t believe in laissez faire and the neo-liberal agenda. No , neo-liberals aren’t keen on “too much democracy”.
          Here it is Veterans Day, Armistice Day, November 11th. The day that ended WWI, the war fought to end all wars. The war to make the world safe for Democracy.
          If neo-liberals win, what will future army recruiting posters say? ‘Fight to make the world safe for Wall St.’ ? Doesn’t sound quite right.

  11. Steven Greenberg

    Aren’t you even a little suspicious when presented with a carefully edited, out of context snippet of what someone said? It is completely possible that this snippet actually represents the entirety of what John Gruber was trying to say. However, how do we know that unless we hear more context around what he was saying? I’ll believe the point this extract is trying to make when somebody produces a longer clip that shows the remarks in context – like what was the question, what was the other response he seems to be agreeing with, and what did he say after he said the words excerpted here?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, puhleeze. This was not a ten second clip. This was a full minute, which having been on panels myself, is often all you are allotted for a response. Gruber makes the same general point with multiple remarks. His position is clear and internally consistent. This is, despite your desperate effort to claim otherwise, not an isolated comment extracted from context.

    2. Banger

      Good point. However, I can assure you of this that, though I don’t know the guy, I know the type of person he is and the social-cultural milieu he comes out of. Most of the DP liberals subscribe to Walter Lippmann’s idea that the average person (remember these guys are upper-middle class people from elite schools) is unable to understand much of anything about public policy and needs to be “led” by an elite who will watch out for their interests and lie if required to pass “good” laws. Populism, in contrast, is the notion that, in fact, the average person probably knows better what he or she needs than the “experts” from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and so on. Of the two political parties the RP is closer to populism than the DP and we need to solidly face that fact.

      I believe in dialogue–I believe the average person does is pretty clueless but, if he or she is engaged in a dialogue with “experts” and government officials then the average person will be able to come up to speed, in my view, pretty quickly. Public policy issues are not as arcane as they seem and how officials and experts want them to seem. Health-care reform is easy and not complicated in the least. You evaluate systems around the world that do function best–you see which one gives the best bang for the buck and then see how that system can be adapted to the U.S. system. Those are all the decisions you need to make and it is common sense–anyone, who wan’t constantly assaulted by the propaganda of the MSM, would have suggested this common sense conclusion. The officials, the experts, the media all want to confuse and mislead the public which, at a certain point, collectively throws up its hands in surrender and lets the oligarchs do as they please since there is no handhold politically for anyone. If there was direct democracy then there would be a direct handhold right there and, eventually, a media would develop that served the people and not the oligarchs.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Part of what you describe is a pale echo of aristocratic societies, without the messy, constricting Noblesse Oblige or similar constructs.

        1. Banger

          Because we are headed as sure as the sun rises tomorrow to a neo-feudal future as long as we remain on this general path which, as yet, has no real opposition. Both parties will get us there by slightly different routes.

  12. Michael

    I don’t think many people believed that the plan was even being sold as universal. It was being “sold” as a big step toward universality. Of course that was all a carefully crafted lie as it is actually a step towards entrenchment in the FOR PROFIT health care system in this so-called “land of the free.”

    Such apologists for ACA don’t even ask the next question: “Toward universal what?” Universal slaves to the for-profit health insurance corporations? Nothing in this bill gets us closer to universal health care since it doesn’t provide care, it provides health insurance. Lots of people with insurance now can’t afford care.

    ACA is worse than the “bailout” of the corrupt banks because it sets in law many possible legalistic maneuvers and loopholes – all at taxpayer expense – under the guise of “reform”. It institutionalizes deceit and corporate profits and really does not ensure anything else.

    Think about this — in this grand “Teachable Moment on Health Care” what lessons were given to Americans watching this deliriously skewed “debate” on Health Care (puppet show is more like it)?

    That health insurance should not be attached to your employment?


    That private insurance companies spend much of their money in paying folks to DENY claims?


    So…what WERE the lessons repeated and learned?

    1-That private health insurance is America’s Way…and should stay that way.

    2-That FORCING people to BUY insurance is the solution to not having enough health care.

    Many Dems rejoiced and said this is the “first step to change.” What nonsense.

    I’m afraid this WAS the Last Chance in a long while for real change, and the Capitalists knew this so they used their Trojan Horse Obama and the more effective evil Democrats to destroy all momentum towards universal single-payer health care. Of course anyone not blinded to the Hopenosis knew that Obama and the Dems sold out their constituents to Big Pharma and Insurance long ago. They acted like the bought and sold pigs that they are. THIS was the time to act. Later it will be harder. This is no time to rejoice.

    There is NOTHING redeeming about ObamaCare- it is an abomination. The few success stories are exactly that- few- and are used to justify this regressive piece of dung. It is pure propaganda.

    Insurance Companies rejoiced because THEY got the Lion’s Share of their ultimate Wish List; (stocks went up) it is THEY who believe this is the “first step” to ending any chance EVER for a Public Plan.

    And NOW Democrats and their apologists are parading around like they just saved America…meanwhile our “saviours” let the wars rage on, put up with spying over the phone, cozy up to torture, and allow Wall Street bandits to take home rewards! Oh, yes, let’s rejoice: the insurance companies had to give in a little, but got the big change they really wanted: PUNISHMENT for NOT buying their products! … and “tea baggers’ call Obama a Socialist?

    I want to vomit.


    How to participate in the new CSA (Corporate States of America) Healthcare system:

    1) Open your wallet.

    2) Show approved mandatory Insurance Corporation policy coverage card.

    .1)Fail to provide mandatory Insurance Corporation policy coverage card.

    .1.a)Be denied medical care. Await eventual arrival of IRS investigation team.

    .1.b)Prepare to go to prison for failing to have mandatory Insurance Corporation healthcare policy.

    3) Demonstrate ability to pay.

    .1)Show that you have Government Welfare or Social Security.

    .1.a)Be given absolute minimum medical treatment mandated by law.

    .1.b) Go home, hope you recover on your own.

    4) Receive treatment appropriate to your income and social status.

    5) Receive prescription for medication, as provided by Pharmaceutical Corporation.

    .1) Pay for prescription.

    .2) Be unable to pay for prescription, prolonging recovery or treatment.

    .2.a) Suffer possible relapse or continuation of condition, leading to further visits for treatment.

    6) Receive bill.

    .1)Pay bill.

    .2)Attempt to pay bill, but fall behind on rent, mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, utilities payments.

    .2.a)Go into bankruptcy. Lose everything you have worked for.

    7) Receive notification from Insurance Corporation that, due to your requiring medical treatment, your premiums are being increased.

    .1)Pay increased premiums.

    .2)Be unable to pay increased premiums.

    .2.a)Drop policy.

    .2.b)Await arrival of IRS investigation team.

    .2.c)Prepare for prison term.

    1. Banger

      The lesson is that official “liberals” and “progressives” who ally themselves with the DP are not to be listened to or trusted ever. The DP is not the lesser of two evils–it is just another kind of more sophisticated evil. I prefer the simpler one but will vote for neither one. The “debate’ during 09 was a fraud–there was no debate, no deliberation based on facts or logic–it was pure back-room deals and nothing else.

    2. susan the other

      Good outline. You could add that the 30% added expense for small business is causing thousands of layoffs.

  13. roadrider

    The Baby Boomers are the blight in our midst.

    I find this sort of statement offensive and insulting – and it matters not if you happen to be a Baby Boomer.

    You can’t simply tar an entire generation of people for the sins of their elites. Using Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as exemplars is just ridiculous. There are literally millions of Baby Boomers who opposed the excesses of those two presidents that you decry and millions of “Greatest Generation”, Gen-X and Millennials who support what they (and Reagan) did.

    All you’re doing is feeding generational warfare which is a ruse encouraged by Astro-turfed organizations like Fight the Debt to move the spotlight off the class warfare the elites are waging against the proles.

    As a “Baby Boomer” I don’t feel responsible for the sins of the elites who were in power in my lifetime. I opposed most of them and most of the politicians I voted for were not elected. Yeah, I voted for Carter and Clinton but I opposed a lot of what they did (deregulation, welfare “reform”, “free-trade” deals, etc.). If I had to do over I would not have voted for those guys but its not like they faced significant opposition from the left.

    Furthermore, many of us felt the same way about our parent’s generation as you do about Baby Boomers. The world the “Greatest Generation” bequeathed us featured stifling conformity, racism, sexism, a cold war that had us living under the specter of nuclear annihilation, Vietnam and the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK along with all that New Deal stuff. Why do you think the country was nearly ripped apart by riots and protests in the sixties? It was not exactly a healthy society.

    1. lambert strether

      You fall unto the same category error. Generations bequeath as a metaphor, but not as an analytical tool for policy analysis. Literally, only those who own bequeath. Less literally, those who manage or control bequeath. Beyond that, responsibility is too diffuse and class boundaries too fuzzy. I don’t go around making statements like “Millenials [insert negative stereotype here]” not because I’m a nice guy, but because it’s a nonsense.

      1. roadrider

        OK, fair point – “bequeathed us” was a poor choice of words.

        I was just trying to make the point that every generation has issues with the world they’re born into and that the post-fifties era had is own problems. Obviously the “Greatest Generation” had its dissenters as well and most people were just living their lives.

        1. susan the other

          I do like your point about “the Greatest Generation.” It always offended me because there wasn’t anything unusually great about them that I could see. And I think the whole propaganda campaign was fomented to try to get around the blowback from Vietnam. And convince a younger generation of the honor of going to war. Gag me Tom Brokaw.

          1. Sufferin' Succotash

            The Greatest Generation fought World War Two.
            No other generation can make that statement.
            Just think about that for a moment.
            Besides, as a member of the GG once told me, “it’s not like we had a helluva lot of choice!”

            1. Vatch

              Chinese who were adults during the 1850s and 1860s fought in the Taiping Rebellion.

              Central Europeans who were alive during the period from 1618 to 1648 fought in the 30 Years War.

              Roman citizens who were alive in 31 BCE fought at the battle of Actium.

              Hittites and Egyptians who were alive around 1274 BCE fought in the battle of Kadesh.

              We could make a really long list, if we want to.

            2. Lambert Strether

              Kee-rist almighty. Generations don’t “make statements.” Or “have issues.” My father was in WWII. He can make a statement.

              The “Greatest Generation” is a marketing slogan. It was invented to sell books. To the extent that categories exist on a spectrum of real to unreal (a philosophical discussion held over there) it’s way the hell over on the unreal side.

              Generations don’t bequeath, or speak, or shit, or fuck, or have any form of agency, even if individual actors self-identified as being of this or that generation do those things.

              I don’t mind the figure of speech in general, but this particular figure is ubiquitous, and immensely destructive, analytically and politically, on a blog like this. One despairs.

              1. skippy

                Ha! Lambert…

                Doing the dirty work for others… till its your turn for the treatment…

                I hope I’m around to see the reflection in their ieyes…

                Skippy…. “Survival of the Fittest” proceeds apace~

  14. LFC

    I saw this posted on another site and after reading the comments I thought I should post my reply here as well.

    So is he “patronizing”, or is he a realist? Let’s look at the facts. The Republicans convinced a not insignificant number of people that the government would control their health care decisions, taking responsibility away from their doctors. Ditto that you wouldn’t even be able to choose your own doctors. And let’s not forget “DEATH PANELS”, a blatant lie if there ever was one. (That last piece of vocal feces personally infuriates me after watching my father get incredibly helpful end of life counseling as he was dying from cancer. I despise every cynical piece of shit right-winger who uttered or repeated it. The fact that they supported a bill do provide the very same end of life counseling when W was in office makes them all the more nauseating. But I digress … constantly.) And Mitch McConnell just won reelection by promising to repeal Obamacare but keep Kentucky’s program … which is Obamacare.

    Now let’s look at the approval polls. The difference between approval of “Obamacare” and “The Affordable Care Act” was 10 points. The difference between “Obamacare” and all of the major individual provisions (other than the mandate since we’re a nation filled with “something for nothing” people) of the ACA was even bigger.

    So looking at the evidence, I think Mr. Gruber is actually quite correct. Yes, it causes a bit of gag reflex to know that so many of my fellow citizens are that stupid, uninformed, and yet highly opinionated in their ignorance, but that’s America.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Heaven forfend that Democrats should ever attempt to change the perception of “realism” by advocating for simple, rugged, and proven solutions that other countries have used. Because ka-ching.

  15. dearieme

    The whole point of health insurance is that people who are well pay for those who are ill. It doesn’t matter whether the insurance is private, public, Martian or Murkin. Since none of us knows whether next week we will be well or ill, we stump up, one way or another.

    P.S. When we lived in NZ I heard little discussion about the system; I conclude that most people were pretty content with it. I heard a bit more discussion when we lived in Oz. And there’s permanent brouhaha about the NHS; that is (in my guess) because it was designed rather stupidly by a chap of Stalinist tendencies. The only purpose of Obamacare that I can see is to make even the NHS look good.

    1. LifelongLib

      “none of us knows whether next week we will be well or ill”

      Actually we can make a much better guess about it than we can about (say) whether or not we’ll be in a car accident. That’s why people resent being forced to buy health insurance (even if it’s good) when in they’re young/healthy and can be pretty sure they won’t need it.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Plato was the original Fascist. I was truly shocked when I read the Republic. Really? This is the father of philosophy? It took almost 2000 years for philosophy to recover, starting with David Hume.

  16. Marcie

    Has anyone seen this?
    Taking insurance companies out of healthcare

    Of course I’m of the opinion that any visit to a maimstream doctor is a risk of being maimed, poisoned or killed. It is how I approach healthcare and I will not go to a hospital or receive cancer treatments of the “standard of care” approach. In my opinion maimstream medicine offers nothing but grief and it is corrupt beyond anyone’s imagination. Of course I read *The Plutonium Files* and was poisoned for profit.

    1. zapster

      On the Boeing ACA: frankly, the only thing I can think of that would be worse than insurance companies in charge of your healthcare is your *employer* in direct control. “Joe, I have a report here that your blood pressure is up and you may be smoking again. You’d better start hitting the gym…”

      1. Marcie

        And then there is ERISA the law that was supposed to help employees that employers turned around to benefit them. This is a contract that pre-empts all contracts and the law is set in stone with decades of precedence screwing the employees. The employers always win, they have the procedural upper hand. It concerns me too that if you are sick they will fire you to get you off its’ plan.

        However my self-insured, employer sponsored plan run by Aetna recently sent me a letter telling me that two medications I was on were counter indicated. And they keep sending me a call-a-doc card just in case I don’t want to go to the doctor’s and he/she is licensed in this state and can prescribe drugs and everything. And they will Skype with you for only $40 a call. What a deal.

        It may well be that a little birdie has told these insurance companies that they need to keep their insured away from hospitals, away from doctors and out of the hands of the pharmaceutical companies. And I agree. I only go to the doctor’s now for a cure to the poison I was injected with 12 times and spent ten years figuring out why I was sick. I just don’t think people realize how much of a risk you take by delivering yourself into the hands of the “medical industrial complex”.

        Perhaps I’m an elitist but most people don’t understand how dangerous it is to go to the doctor especially pre-ACA. I never went to the doctor’s prior to being poisoned and didn’t even have a PCP but I allowed myself to be fear mongered into MRIs with gadolinium based contrasting agents after my sister developed breast cancer at 34 (which was iatrogenic too via high dose synthetic birth control pills) and then found out she had the dreaded BRCA mutation and so did I. But one thing I know for sure the mass poisoning of the patient population must stop and it hasn’t. I’m not sure if ProPublica has pure intentions on their Facebook Patient Harm Group but I can say this, it is rare on that group for anyone to complain about their employer or their insurer; they complain about being harmed by a corrupt, evil, intentional infliction of injury provider that cares nothing about helping patients only how they can use the patient for financial gain. And it is an international problem. We’re exporting misery to benefit large multinational corporations in other countries, Ireland comes to mind. I don’t have the answer but I fear in this order:

        1) Doctors
        2) Medicare
        3) Insurers
        4) Employers

        And I fear them all although I don’t have to worry about working again thanks to GE and Bayer poisoning me with their products, Omniscan and Magnevist which those of us poisoned like to call OmniKill and Magnedeath. By the way they are still injecting people with these product to the tune of millions of bolus doses a year.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think the timing is awfully convenient. The sequence reminds me very much of Buckhead, the guy who started the “Fonts” thing with the Killian memos. In literally a single news cycle, the story made its way from Buckhead, an “unknown blogger” (and an Atlanta lawyer, IIRC, and a member of the Federalist Society) to the mainstream. The same pattern here (and the guy who found the video even makes a meta reference to Buckhead, with his joke about not being a guy in a basement). Now, this cycle apparently took much more than a week, which I take to be a sign that the Republican attack machine is not nearly as feral as it once was. But still.

      All this is not to say that Gruber is not an asshat, since he clearly is, or that the Democrats should not pay a price for a lousy corrupt process and a lousy corrupt policy, since they should.

      However, we might also notice that the legacy parties have now successfully combined, if not colluded, to restrict the Overton Window to ObamaCare vs. crippled or no ObamaCare, and single payer is still not on the table (and there are other Gruber videos talking about that, which for some reason did not go viral….) Mission accomplished….

  17. Jay M

    The glory is, you no longer have to put up a sign saying ‘To the Egress’,
    the sacking of sign-painters and sign-hangers has boosted ye olde bottom line to no end
    if we can only sack the real hanger-ons–the old, bamboozlement will reign supreme.
    future quote: they were just unfriended, no harm was meant

  18. Clifford Johnson

    Here’s Judge Alsup of the U.S. District Court affirming that the government has a natural bully pulpit right to lie, notwithstanding the First Amendment right to know. I sought findings of misrepresentation by the Treasury. (The 9th circuit recently affirmed the dismissal in case No. 12-16775–but it’s not over. I’m refiling against the GAO.)
    “Plaintiff [Johnson] seeks relief in the form of an injunction whereby this Court would regulate what the Treasury can and cannot say on this subject. This remarkable proposition has no support in the law. Our elected leaders necessarily adopt policy positions. By virtue of their ‘bully pulpit,’ they necessarily receive more attention than the rest of us. Nonetheless, it cannot possibly be the law that this circumstance violates anyone’s right to say whatever they want about public policy. To rule otherwise would invite thousands of lawsuits by those seeking to regulate through the courts what elected officials and their appointees can and cannot say in support of public policy. This would be an unthinkable result. Mr. Johnson’s claim is rejected on the merits.”

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