All-Star Panel: Fallout for ObamaCare after Gruber's remarks

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JONATHAN GRUBER, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: I'm going to end the tax [inaudible] insurance. They look at me and they go, you are going to tax my health insurance? And you just can't get through. It's politically impossible. So basically it's the same thing. We just tax the insurance companies. They pass on higher prices that offset the tax break we get and it ends up being the same thing. It's a very clever, basically exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter. OK, and basically the Cadillac tax is put in and basically that's going to help control health care cost because it's going to end these excessive subsidies for the most expensive health insurance plans and over time its' going to apply to more and more health insurance plans.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that was third piece of tape, third clip from MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber talking about ObamaCare. He said this week that he was sorry for those remarks, the first ones on tape. He said they were off the cuff and he regretted making those comments. But there is a pattern here.


GRUBER: So we'll have what we call a Cadillac tax in which any insurance plan that costs more than $23,000 a year will have a tax on it. Now, you and I know, economists know, that that will just get passed on the price of insurance, offset the tax break you get, but it will have the same effect and economists will like it.

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.


BAIER: Well, you have Capitol Hill weighing in, you have Howard Dean weighing in. We're back with the panel. Jason, what about this?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I thank him for his honesty, Bret. Here you have the head of the ObamaCare brain trust basically telling us that the president's signature piece of legislation is based on deceit and lies. And I thank him for his honesty. A lot of us on the political right knew this all along, but it's nice to hear it coming from Gruber and company.

BAIER: Fox poll about ObamaCare, first about whether it's good for the country, bad for the country. Split 52 percent bad for the country, good for the country 40 percent. And did the Obama administration misrepresent effects of health care law to get it passed, 55 percent of registered voters said yes. Juan, this seems like a bit of an issue ahead of another round of ObamaCare.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: The big issue here is it creates anxiety, uncertainty about the law, and I think puts a bad varnish on it. As Jason said I think it's a gift to the critics of ObamaCare, because, you know, it's all sausage making. And this is very unpleasant. But the fact is everything gets marketed from soap to, you know, ballgames. We all market, and there is a lot of spin in Washington when it comes to legislation. People can look back at how much, you know, is it the case that the Iraqi oil reserves are going to pay for the cost of war, or look back to the prescription drug -- I think it is spin. I will say this.


WILLIAMS: I can't believe that he has talked about the stupidity of the American voter. I think that's inexcusable. That's rude.

RILEY: This is very representative of the left's mindset, their moral superiority. They're not only morally superior, they're also more intelligent. And they need to explain things to us yokels out there in flyover country. And we can't think for ourselves, we can't choose our health care for ourselves, we can't choose our doctors for ourselves. We need elites telling us how to do these things.

WILLIAMS: That's a different point to be made. I think it's a different point to be made, which is that some people actually think it's lowered the number of people that don't have -- who lack insurance in this country, which is --

BAIER: The law overall.


BAIER: We should point out that we first reported on Professor Gruber in the context of the Halbig case, which is now the loss that went through federal court. Now it's heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which, Charles, he said it's important to remember if you are a state and you don't set up an exchange that means your citizens don't get tax credits, and that's how this was set up. But your citizens still pay taxes to support the bill. Well, that's how this whole lawsuit is hinged is that it was set up that way.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And that is exactly the case of the plaintiffs. If it is upheld, it will mean the collapse of ObamaCare. Gruber has now admitted that the critics reading of the law, the plain meaning of the law, and the intent of the law is the same. You only get a subsidy if you are on a state exchange, not on the federal exchange. So it's extremely damaging.

But Juan, this isn't a gift to the critics. This is a vindication of the critics. This isn't spin. This is open and admitted deception. These are lies that were told, and he explains every one of the lies that were told. And the central lie was this -- it was Obama saying to the country we are doing this to help the needy, that's a nice sweet thing. But anybody who is not in need will be left unmolested. You will not have to pay more. You are not going to have a plan canceled. And what Gruber is telling us, they knew in advance it was a huge transfer of wealth from those who already have health insurance to those who didn't. And this was concealed because, as he said, if it was known the law would never have passed.

BAIER: We should point out that the administration lifted up Gruber before all of this came out. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for proof that it's always about how you tell the jokes.

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