To the editor: You far too blithely ask us to move past economist Jonathan Gruber’s cynical but revealing comments about the Affordable Care Act. His comments betray a willingness of the law’s supporters during congressional debate to adopt descriptions of the legislation that they thought would be more palatable than more plain and accurate language. (“Economist Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare comments show his cynicism,” Editorial, Nov. 18)
You fail to cite some of Gruber’s other comments, such as what he said about the intentional limitation of insurance subsidies to those buying policies on state exchanges and his admission that the tax on high-end plans was portrayed as being imposed on insurers because it could not be “sold” as a tax on individuals with such plans.
Neither Gruber nor the president nor those in Congress who were fooled or did the fooling should be given a pass just because The Times thinks the law is a good thing.
Jeffrey C. Briggs, Hollywood
To the editor: Gruber’s comments about the stupidity of the general public are not original.
Back in the early 20th Century, H.L. Mencken famously said, “No one in this world … ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” In 2004, Thomas Frank published his bestseller, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” which could be also be called “How Stupid Can You Get to Vote Against Your Own Economic Interest?”
Going back in history, the Romans figured out that to keep the allegiance of the masses, what they needed was panem et circenses (bread and games). Even the great Greek philosopher Plato, who advocated for democracy, had doubts about the general public’s wisdom.
Donna Handy, Santa Barbara
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