The Affordable Care Act was always too good to be true, but speaking the truth is bad medicine for controversial laws.
Now we know the Obamacare lies of the past six years were calculated, intentional, and crafted to fool what the healthcare law's creators assumed to be an ignorant American public.
We know this because one of the ACA's central architects, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, has said so.
In at least a half-dozen videos that have surfaced on the Internet, Gruber explains how the law was crafted to hide its true impact.
That means such infamous whoppers as "If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it" were not innocent mistakes, but deliberate Obamacare lies. Everyone involved in the writing of the ACA knew from the start knew such assertions were false.
But they also knew if they told the truth, the public outcry would have strangled the ACA in its crib.
And yet that's not the worst part. According to Gruber, the creators of the ACA felt sure they'd get away with all the Obamacare lies because of "the stupidity of the American voter."
It's a point Gruber makes on several occasions.
"It's a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," he says in another video as he discusses the "Cadillac tax."
Obamacare Facts Give Top Democrats Amnesia
Although top Democratic leaders frequently cited Gruber's work back in 2009 and 2010, the incendiary videos have brought on mass amnesia.
When asked about Gruber's remarks on Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed Gruber as "some adviser who never worked on our staff" and who "expressed an opinion I completely disagree with."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was Speaker of the House in 2009 when the ACA was passed, was equally dismissive. "I don't know who he is and he didn't help write our bill," she said.
But back in 2009 Pelosi publicly praised Gruber for his work on the healthcare law, as did other Democrats. And the Obama administration paid Gruber nearly $400,000 for his contributions to the crafting of the law. He's visited the White House more than a dozen times since 2009.
Gruber later was loaned to Congress to help draft the ACA. News stories cited him as a "key architect" of the healthcare law. And he served as a consultant to federal agencies as well as state governments over the next several years, racking up millions of dollars in fees.
So when Jonathan Gruber talks about Obamacare facts, he knows what he's talking about.
Let's take a fresh look at the impact of those Obamacare lies in light of Gruber's comments...
How Americans Got Bamboozled by Obamacare Lies
The Obamacare lies had dual purposes. The lies were told to sell the healthcare law to the American public, as well as to disguise the ACA's long-term effects.
- Broken Promises: The best-known Obamacare lie - "If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it" - was rated 2013's Lie of the Year by Politifact. Coupled with assurances the ACA would cut health insurance costs for families by $2,500 a year, they were designed to placate a skeptical public. Thanks to Gruber, it's now clear that those who crafted the law knew these claims were false from the start. The law was specifically designed to wipe out "non-compliant" plans and encourage restrictions on access to hold down costs.
- Word Games: President Obama frequently insisted the individual mandate to buy health insurance is not a tax. But as the Supreme Court ruled in 2012, the mandate is a tax. The creators of the ACA recognized a new tax would not go over well with the public. So it became a "penalty" instead. "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes," Gruber says in a video from 2013. "If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies."
- Kiss Your Employer-Sponsored Insurance Goodbye: The so-called "Cadillac tax" was written into the ACA to help pay for the mammoth healthcare law. It's a 40% tax levied on the most expensive employer-sponsored health insurance programs, paid by the employer. This year, it affects only 8% of all plans. But Gruber has let slip that the Cadillac tax is in fact a Trojan horse that will, bit by bit, destroy employer-sponsored health insurance.
That's because the tax is indexed to the Consumer Price Index, which increases at a much slower rate than medical costs. Each year, more employer health insurance plans - the primary way most middle-class Americans now get their health insurance - will fall under the Cadillac tax. By 2030, more than 70% of employer plans will get hit with the tax.Few employers will want to pay the 40% tax on behalf of their employees. Over time businesses will stop offering health benefits, placating workers with raises to replace the lost benefits. But then employees will be forced to pay taxes on that money. Employer health insurance subsidies now are untaxed. It's a lose-lose situation for the American middle class.
"It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of," Gruber said of employer-sponsored healthcare. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it's a tax on people who hold those insurance plans."
Obamacare Is Here to Stay
For those Americans who voted for Republicans in the recent midterm election in the hope of deliverance from the ACA... don't hold your breath.
Even if the Republican Congress repeals Obamacare, President Obama will never agree to a scuttling of his signature achievement. And electing a Republican president in 2016 won't help much, either.
By then the ACA will have been in force for six years. The GOP will be hard-pressed to come up with a workable alternative. Gruber and his cohorts made sure Obamacare would be virtually impossible to reverse, and Exhibit A is the insidious Cadillac tax.
"It's on the books now," Gruber said of the most devious of the Obamacare lies. "At that point, if they want to get rid of it they're going to have to fill a trillion-dollar hole in the deficit."
The Bottom Line: Obamacare lies were used to sell the law to the American people - and video of one of the ACA's chief architects proves it. At this point, little can be done but brace for impact.
How to Profit from Obamacare: Now that the fall enrollment period for healthcare coverage is here, it's becoming clear almost everyone is going to be paying more come January 2015. Premiums, co-pays, and deductibles are all going up. You can blame it on Obamacare, but there is a silver lining. Here's how investors can profit from rising healthcare costs...
Follow me on Twitter @DavidGZeiler.
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.