Obamacare Architect Is a Eugenicist
Jonathan Gruber has published papers justifying abortion for improving the lives of the living. Did he suggest that for the elderly in the Affordable Care Act?
The MIT economist who has taken heat in recent months for year-old videos calling American voters “stupid” for falling for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, and who considered lack of transparency a political advantage, was grilled by Congresspersons in the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee today (Dec. 9, 2014). Jonathan Gruber denied being the “architect” of the ACA despite receiving high praise as a key expert from Democrats before and after it was passed, from the President and the Speaker of the House. There was no effort to distance the law from Gruber’s expertise till his embarrassing videos started playing on the nightly news.
Gruber began with an apology for his “insulting” and “glib” comments, which some of the committee members noted came over a year after he made them, and then, not until the damning videos came to public light. He apparently found, once again, that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” as he dodged questions with a lateral pass to his counsel, and couldn’t remember key things, like how much taxpayer money he was paid. While Trey Gowdy (R-SC) pinned him on the insincerity of his apology, it was Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), also an MIT alumnus, who perhaps probed into one of the most “chilling” facts about Dr. Gruber’s background.
Massie referred Gruber to a paper he had co-authored in 1997, “Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the Marginal Child?” for the National Bureau of Economic Research. This paper had been updated in the The Review of Economics and Statistics (MIT), The Blaze reports, in 2009—just when the ACA was being formulated. These papers evaluated the living circumstances of children born before and after abortion was legalized, and concluded that the unborn would have had hard lives. Those remaining, however, would enjoy better living circumstances because of “selection.” Beyond that, the paper states that the abortion saved the government $14 billion in welfare payments. Here is the Abstract from the 1997 paper:
We estimate the impact of changes in abortion access in the early 1970s on the average living standards of cohorts born in those years. In particular, we address the selection inherent in the abortion decision: is the marginal child who is not born when abortion access increases more or less disadvantaged than the average child? Legalization of abortion in five states around 1970, followed by legalization nationwide due to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, generates natural variation which can be used to estimate the effect of abortion access. We fmd that cohorts born after abortion was legalized experienced a significant reduction in a number of adverse outcomes. Our estimates imply that the marginal child who was not born due to legalization would have been 70% more likely to live in a single parent family, 40% more likely to live in poverty, 50% more likely to receive welfare, and 35% more likely to die as an infant. These selection effects imply that the legalization of abortion saved the government over $14 billion in welfare expenditures through 1994.
The word “selection” permeates the paper, and often as “positive selection.” The 2009 Abstract is shorter but similar, still using the word “selection”:
Abortion legalization in the early 1970s led to dramatic changes in fertility. Some research has suggested that it altered cohort outcomes, but this literature has been limited and controversial. In this paper, we provide a framework for understanding selection mechanisms and use that framework to both address inconsistent past methodological approaches and provide evidence on the long-run impact on cohort characteristics. Our results indicate that lower-cost abortion brought about by legalization altered young adult outcomes through selection. In particular, it increased likelihood of college graduation, lower rates of welfare use, and lower odds of being a single parent.
Since the ACA includes a new agency, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is tasked with reducing costs of healthcare without (presumably) reducing quality, Massie queried whether “selection” via abortion as a cost-cutting effect might also apply to the elderly once the ACA goes into full effect. Regarding the implication that Gruber approved of abortion for cost savings, he responded, “That’s not what my paper was about; it was about empirical facts…” But then, Massie continued reading from the paper. A transcript of the interchange (watchable on YouTube) follows:
Massie (quoting Gruber’s paper): “By 1993 all cohorts under the age of 18 were born under legalized abortion, and we estimate steady-state savings of 1.5 billion dollars per year from positive selection.” What did you mean by “positive selection”? Because, in this paper, you’re talking about providing more access to abortions to a socio-economic strata of our constituents.
Gruber: What the paper did was look at…
Massie: What did you mean by “positive selection”?
Gruber: In that paper, we were studying the characteristics of children who were born before and after abortion was legalized. If by comparing those characteristics you can infer the characteristics of the kids who were not born—
Massie: So what you inferred I find chilling. What you inferred is that if we reduce the number of children born, life will be better for the rest of us still living. Specifically, you seem to suggest that if we eliminate or reduce the number of poor people that are born, this will make life better for all Americans. And this gets me to my final point, which is the Independent Payments Advisory Board. My constituents fear that this is in fact a method by which Obamacare will ration care for the elderly, and therefore implement cost savings for Medicare. So my question to you is, does your philosophy on abortion, that it can save money and improve outcomes, have any implications in the realm of end-of-life care? You argued that abortions of poor children raised the average living circumstances in your paper for the rest of us, and save the government money. So Dr. Gruber, if there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn’t that save a ton of money, too? As an economist, wouldn’t that save a ton of money, too? Do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?
Gruber: I have no philosophy of abortion; I have no philosophy of end-of-life care. My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts [inaudible] can make the necessary—
Massie interrupted his answer to focus on his views on rationing. Gruber stated, “I do not advocate the Federal Government should ration end-of-life care.” His time up, Massie yielded back to Chairman Darrel Issa.
Chilling is right! Don’t buy into Gruber’s excuse that he is a mere number cruncher, blindly running models and delivering ethically-neutral “empirical facts” to other decision makers who will use his facts for good or ill. If, as a PhD professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the country, Jonathan Gruber is so uneducated on the history of eugenics as to be totally clueless on the “dangerous implications of going down this path,” then we have a vacation to sell you on the Isle of DeBris. Notice that his views were unchanged 12 years after the first paper. This was not a one-time slip, but represents the man’s professional career views. Abortion, he thinks, can have a positive good on the living. Death to those who drag down society: that’s eugenics.
What adds to the chilliness of this revelation is Gruber’s use of the word “selection.” Abortion, he said, is not just a “selection,” but a “positive selection,” he said. That term is not an economist’s jargon; it’s frequently used in science journals to refer to Darwinian natural selection for survival of the fittest. The reference is strengthened by his reference to abortion creating “natural variation” in the population, on which selection acts. Putting this together it means that getting rid of the unfit makes life better for “the rest of us.”
This is as ghastly as Hitler. Can you imagine any economic adviser to Hitler washing his hands of the atrocities at Hadamar by telling the Nuremberg judges that “I’m just a number cruncher; the Fuhrer needed some empirical facts, so my job as an economist was just to provide the data. I have no philosophy of extermination.” Picture the notorious Nazi propaganda film about the mentally retarded and imbeciles playing on the screen overhead as he speaks.
So this is the man the Democrats and the President sought out to model a healthcare bill: a published eugenicist, who believes that “positive selection” leads to improved survival of the fittest. (Moderate Republicans, take note: Gruber helped Romney with Romneycare, too.) There’s no other way to describe this. It cannot be prettied up. “Positive selection” is code for Darwinism. When used about humans, it’s code for Social Darwinism. There’s a Malthusian element to his chilling scheme as well. We have limited resources for healthcare. It needs to be “affordable.” Too many unfit individuals raise costs, and drag down the benefits for the rest of us—especially the poor and most needy. Abortion has been a social good, raising the fitness of the living; it led to “positive selection.” The unborn wouldn’t have been happy anyway.
It’s only a short step to “The elderly cost too much. They’ve already had a good life, and now they are a burden on society. They need to make room for the younger, fitter individuals. Why, think how much money the government could save!“
Oh, but didn’t Gruber deny advocating that the Federal Government should ration end-of-life care? Don’t be a sucker. He had to say that. Do you think for a minute he would admit under oath, on camera, that he advocates rationing healthcare for seniors? His response is riddled with loopholes. He said “I” do not advocate it, but, after all, he’s just an economist. That’s not his job. It allows him to still “believe” in rationing, but let others advocate it and carry it out. And there are ways the “federal” government can pass the buck to the states; i.e., you don’t get your subsidies unless you control costs. He could also say that he does not advocate that the feds “should” ration, while advising that they “could” do it, if they want to save money. All he has to do is say, “Mr. President, I’m not saying you ‘should’ do this, but our studies on abortion showed that you ‘could’ save a lot of money by concentrating care on those with the best quality of life.” If sued over his denial, he can always say that he was misunderstood.
Gruber has zero credibility, so his apology and excuses should be ignored (if he admits the ACA was built on lies, then his apology is a lie from a known liar). The real Gruber is the one who freely published, in 1997 and 2009, that selection by death leads to economic good for the living (who just happen to be richer and fitter). By using the term “positive selection,” he has pledged allegiance to Charles Darwin and his cousin, Francis Galton—the father of eugenics. He’s in the line of Margaret Sanger who created Planned Parenthood to eliminate the poor, blacks, and unfit by abortion. He’s in the line of H. G. Wells who preached that people should justify their existence or get out of the way, so as not to be a drain on society. This thinking is completely opposite the teaching of Christ and the apostles, and by the bitter fruit of selectionist eugenics in the 20th century, we should know them.
For more on Darwin’s ugly influence on society, see Discovery Institute’s recent documentary, The Biology of the Second Reich. Also worth watching is Todd Friel’s documentary, What Hath Darwin Wrought? There may still be time to stop history from repeating itself in our time. Get informed, and speak up!
Economists study economic factors.
If I did a study seeking to answer whether the holocaust brought about renewed economic activity for Germany or was detrimental it wouldn’t mean I was in support of it no matter the result of that study.
It’s been the tendency of people since the word “eugenics” came into the lexicon to assume that the results of any study were the unstated sinister goal of the one doing the study. If a scientist studies whether african americans are more physically adept by nature.. or more / less intelligent by nature it’s always attacked as racism and labeled suspect in terms of what that scientist plans to DO with such a study. Or, for that matter, why did he even bring it up in the first place?
I consider the question of whether abortion has had a negative or positive economic impact an interesting question, taboo or not… actually my only issue with examining such a question is there are far too many factors to ever sufficiently answer it.
You state “Abortion, he thinks, can have a positive good on the living. Death to those who drag down society:”
Perhaps it could… perhaps it couldn’t. Rather that being scared of the implication, I’m more bothered by people who are scared of people asking questions. Funny that on the political right there’s so much concern about the left being too focused on being “PC”… yet it seems they have their own form of it.
Whatever you do, don’t ask that question — because clearly if you ask THAT question you must want to kill babies.
Don’t attack a straw man. We’re not against asking questions, but about the way they are framed. Gruber was clearly doing a Darwinian, eugenical analysis on abortion through his reference to “selection” on this “natural variation.” Some questions, though, have built-in implications that cannot be sanitized. Suppose we did a study on how the cells of your body could make the grass grow greener if you were to be sacrificed to Allah right now, or how many cannibals your organs could feed. What would you think of a German economist modeling how many homes could be heated by the crematorium at Auschwitz? Why even ask such things? There’s such a thing as human dignity if you believe in God. It’s not the “political right” that shuns such thoughts, but basic human dignity, regardless of political feelings. I can’t imagine a leftist atheist asking seriously, “I wonder how many bowls of stew I can make from lux113’s body?” Good grief.