It is rather unfortunate that most Americans have never heard of Jonathan Gruber, and frankly it is even more unfortunate that most Americans will never hear of Jonathan Gruber. I am someone who proclaims an interest in politics and current events, yet even with all my close reading and attention paid to news sites and media outlets, it was not until my father mentioned him to me that I had ever heard of Jonathan Gruber. This man is an economist at MIT who is basically an “architect” of, and expert on, the Affordable Care Act. His legacy as it relates to the law would have continued in obscurity for the rest of time if it were not for a few leaked videos where he claims that the ACA was written and designed in a way mean to mislead the American people into voting for something they would never support. Some of his serious quotes read as follows: “if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in—you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, okay. 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 for the thing to pass” or “I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the [individual] mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so [the law is] written to do that” The basic premise of his comments are as follows: the American people would never have supported the ACA because it is a bunch of tax hikes on the middle class, so it was written in away for ‘unwanted’ provisions to hide in anonymity behind a thousand pages of confusing regulation. Ironically, this idea was summed up by a major proponent of the ACA, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who said “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” This is some shining example of transparency in my opinion. While it is possible to dive into the workings of the law and explain all the tax hikes and covert dealings the ACA has to offer, I think it is most important to bring forward the key point which the framers of the ACA sought to hide. Both before and after the 2008 election, opponents of Barak Obama and his health care reform package labeled the ACA as effectively redistributing wealth. As Gruber admitted, the law redistributes money from the young and healthy to the old and unhealthy. For example, in Louisiana, a 27 year old man faces an increase in insurance costs of 108% in order to prevent older people from encountering any sort of cost increase. Here is where we see the tenants of Marx creeping their way into American policy and it was this exact image that the Obama camp wanted to avoid. It is this association which spells immediate doom for any and all endeavors by politicians or NGOs. Gruber has taught us the ACA was written in order for these connections not to be made. While moving money from young and healthy to old and unhealthy is not exactly the commonplace image when talking about wealth redistribution, it still nonetheless is wealth redistribution. As can be found reading The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, the principles of communism rest on this idea as the means to transfer capital (or the means of production) from the hands of the Bourgeois to the hands of the proletariat.
As the debate over the ACA continues to rage with the wave of newly elected Republicans vowing to repeal the law it is inevitable that these ties to communism get rekindled. It is odd that America was the country that would have best fit the conditions laid out by Marx for a place that would develop into a communist economic system, and yet some 150 odd years later, we still employ an ever growing and expanding capitalist free market. Some pose the question though, that when bills like the ACA become law, how much longer before Marx’s vision becomes a reality on the ground.