The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Jonathan Gruber Goes to Washington

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Most of you know about Jonathan Gruber. He is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economics professor that was hired as a consultant by the Obama administration to provide guidance on designing ObamaCare. He has often been called the “architect” of ObamaCare. What was his consulting fee just from the Department of Health and Human Services? A mere $400,000. I wrote in an earlier blog that he had been called to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on December 9, 2014. That hearing occurred today.

Yesterday, I was listening to WMAL, a local radio station. The hosts asked their usual Monday guest Joseph diGenova, former United States Attorney, District of Columbia, what questions congressional Republicans should ask professor Jonathan Gruber in the hearing. What did diGenova say? He said they should ask about and get his billing invoices, not only for the federal government but also from the states that hired Gruber. According to diGenova, the records are vague and with little transparency on what Gruber did for the millions of dollars he received.

For example, Vermont government officials hired Gruber to help them design their single-payer plan. State Auditor, Doug Hoffer, wants all of Gruber's billing records and payments. The blog Vermontdigger has been following the Gruber billing issue and has reported there is a lack of information on the invoices.

I watched most of the hearing. Sure enough, Gruber's billing records were a topic of much heated discussion. The Hill reports, “In a House Oversight hearing to examine the ‘transparency failures of ObamaCare,’ the embattled healthcare adviser who called voters stupid repeatedly refused to say how much money he received from the government.” He also said he would not provide the documents and data related to his consulting work and told the committee several times to work with his attorney to get that information.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked Gruber “What are you hiding? Why won't you give those to us? According to The Hill:

Chaffetz then ordered Gruber to submit the information within 30 days, with nearly a half-dozen others joining in.

Gruber, who largely kept a calm voice and demeanor during the grueling hourlong hearing, mocked Chaffetz’s request for documents.

'Do I have documents?' Gruber asked. 'I have all sorts of documents. I " have a piece of paper in front of me.'

The Republicans have threatened to serve a subpoena for his billing records and to bring him back before the committee.

Republicans were not the only ones that were angry. Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Mr. Gruber’s remarks about American voters were "stupid," "irresponsible", and "incredibly disrespectful." He expressed frustration over Gruber’s remarks concerning the way the law was written, such as how "a lack of transparency is a huge political advantage" and the "stupidity of the American people" was useful in getting the bill passed.

It is clear that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is not through with Mr. Gruber. He probably should have been more cooperative about providing his billing records and with his demeanor to Rep. Chaffetz. After all, Chaffetz is the incoming chairman of the committee.

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