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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The only time Republicans admit what they’re really up to is when they attack Democrats for doing the exact same thing they’re either currently doing or have already done.

As soon as Senate Democrats released the executive summary of a report detailing the CIA’s torture regime under the George W. Bush administration, a Fox News host was already calling it a distraction. “I find it ironic that they’re dropping this report on the same day that Gruber’s testifying, to knock that out of the front pages,” Outnumbered’s Jesse Watters speculated.

Ah, Jonathan Gruber. The #Benghazi of all #Benghazis.

He’s the real issue that America needs to focus on now that the election is over, and Republicans can stop pretending that they care about ISIS, or Ebola, or governing.

If you exist outside of the conservative media wormhole, you’ve probably vaguely heard of Gruber. But you may not be aware of why.

Earlier this winter, a conservative investment advisor dug up tapes of Gruber serving up a Penthouse Letters-quality fantasy to a right wing that sensed a renewed chance to gut the Affordable Care Act, with the help of an offensively specious reading of the law — one that’s made its way to the Supreme Court.

In these tapes, Gruber personifies the right’s worst caricature of the liberal elite. He brags about using the “stupidity of the American voter” to get some of the law’s least popular features — like the individual mandate and the “Cadillac” tax on insurance policies worth more than $25,000 a year — sneaked into the bill.

It’s awful stuff for defenders of the Affordable Care Act, including me, who’ve relied on Gruber’s pedigree of having worked for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney to make the case that Republicans oppose the law purely out of partisan spite. Some on the left have been warning against Gruber for years, for failing to disclose his contracts with the government and his conservative tendencies. But his explanation of how “winners” under the law would vastly outnumber those who lost policies they liked was taken as gospel by many ACA proponents. And his quote describing GOP opposition to expanding Medicaid as “awesome in its evilness” was repeated by Paul Krugman and retweeted by liberals throughout the land.

So… checkmate.

Except that what Gruber said was pretty much BS. (Please verify this, PolitiFact.)

Passage of the Affordable Care Act was excruciatingly transparent. For months upon months, the Senate Committee on Finance met publicly to hash out the law (with far too much input from lobbyists), hoping to win over even one Republican supporter with a proposal that cloned an approach to health care reform conceived almost entirely by the right.

Democrats hedged on whether the individual mandate was a tax. But when the Supreme Court saved the law, it clearly labeled it that way. And Republicans didn’t make a big issue of this fact in the 2012 presidential campaign, because they’d nominated the first guy who ever signed an individual mandate into law.

Even it it weren’t BS, who cares? Gruber’s stray comments that seemed to support the Republican argument that red states can deny tax credits to their citizens doesn’t erase how his models and commentary directly contradicted their point.

But he’s an architect!

You can call Gruber the architect of Obamacare and Romneycare. I did. And what does that change?

An “architect” of the Iraq War said it would pay for itself. The “architects” of the Bush tax cuts said they would be good for the economy, and we got the first decade without job growth in 70 years. And Republicans are vowing to use the same voodoo math that justified the lowest tax rates on the rich in a century again — even as inequality hits its worst point since before the Great Depression.

Can the Supreme Court invoke the “architect” clause to reverse these actual disasters?

But it’s about transparency! Republicans scream, right before insisting that a report detailing torture not be released.

This is a party that cares so much about transparency that it went to the Supreme Court to make sure Dick Cheney wouldn’t have to disclose which energy overlords he met with in the White House.

Of course, Gruber is a distraction. A distraction from reports showing that 10.3 million Americans have gained health insurance, health spending growth is at a 53-year low, hospitals are saving more money and lives, people have more freedom to work or not work and the projected cost of health care for taxpayers has shrunk faster than anyone could have imagined.

Republicans suggested that Obamacare would destroy the economy. Instead we’re in the middle of the best job growth of this century.

Study after study shows the Affordable Care Act is working. It isn’t perfect. People lost plans and doctors, as they did before the law. But now they have the security of knowing they cannot be denied coverage due to insurer discrimination, and at least 80 percent of what they pay is going toward actual health care. And the GOP’s desperate attempts to talk about anything but how the law is working may be our best proof of this success.

After six years of promises, Republicans still haven’t put together any Obamacare alternative, because they know it will invite every criticism they’ve been making of the president since 2009. Instead, they’re hoping the Supreme Court will act as the Republican National Committee offshoot it has become to rob middle-class workers of tax credits they need to buy health insurance.

The Gruber hearings disappointed some on the right.

“Perhaps conservatives were better off when the mainstream press was largely ignoring Gruber-gate,” Hot Air‘s Noah Rothman wrote  after the media didn’t offer any of the anti-Gruber backwash that conservatives have been ricocheting around their echo chamber, as if anyone but the people who already hated the law even cared.

That’s the problem with distractions. Eventually people may wonder what you’re distracting them from.

Screenshot: YouTube

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