Not The Onion: MSNBC Brings on Jonathan Gruber in Attempt to Fact-Check Trump on Jobs, ObamaCare

Here’s a story that you can’t make up, folks. In an attempt to fact-check President-elect Donald Trump on his claim of Sprint bringing jobs back to the United States, Wednesday’s The Last Word turned to none other than ObamaCare architect and deception artist Jonathan Gruber for two segments to inform MSNBC viewers where Trump went wrong and struggled with facts. 

Gruber’s two segments on MSNBC featured a healthy dosage of irony as fellow guest and former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean bemoaned the idea of the federal government running deficits and implored Democrats to be the party of fiscal responsibility under Trump.

Granted, Trump appeared to have been overstating the impact he had on Sprint bringing jobs back to the U.S. as a result of his deal-making. However, MSNBC should perhaps look elsewhere if it wants to find a neutral arbiter instead of the man the media tried desperately to ignore when it came to his role in creating the lie that is ObamaCare.

When host Lawrence O’Donnell first turned to Gruber on Sprint with some news headlines about Trump’s declaration, he whined that Trump was employing “politics by the headline.”

Gruber obviously agreed, ruling that “the U.S. economy, in a typical month, both creates and destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs and this is — this kind of argument is exactly the argument by anecdote that Trump has mastered, and that the press has bought into.”

In perhaps the line of the night, Gruber then actually said the following [emphasis mine]:

We should be having political debates over facts, over aggregate facts. Jobs created, jobs lost, wages increasing. The enormous success that President Obama has created more jobs than any president in recent history, many more than Ronald Reagan, for example. That’s the kind of fact we need to focus on, not the kind of anecdotes that Donald Trump uses over and over again to both promote his ideas and to attack constructive ideas on the other side.

Moments later, Gruber recycled decades-old liberal talking points about tax cuts only benefitting the wealthy with only “a small tax cut for most Americans.” 

He added that it’s imperative that Democrats “explain without sounding wonky, without sounding off-putting, that yes, the average American may get a couple of hundred dollars back, but their kids are going to be paying...higher interest charges because the tax break is going to the wealthiest Americans.”

Dean gave it his best shot in trying to outdo Gruber in the lunacy department when he ruled that Republicans will try to “conceal the deficit” on Trump policy proposals to the point that if a private business used “just lying and chicanery and financial BS,” then the would be “out of business as a result of what happened in 2008.”

“So, what we have to do is explain to people that running up more and more money on the deficit is not a way of helping America become great again. We have to become the deficit hawks...The Democrats need to be deficit hawks. We need to talk about the deficit and get serious about it and all those budget balancing groups in Washington funded by Republicans ought to be on our side because the Republicans are going to do nothing to make — do anything better about balancing the budget,” Dean opined.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on December 29:

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
December 29, 2016
10:09 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: But he does seem to have figured out the minds of headline writers. He got some pretty good headlines today as a result of that little stunt. Reuters headline was "Trump says Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to U.S.". L.A. Times had a headline up saying "Trump touts plan by Sprint and OneWeb to create 8,000 U.S. jobs." And Jonathan Gruber, this is politics by headline.

JONATHAN GRUBER: You know, look, the U.S. economy in a typical month both creates and destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs and this is — this kind of argument is exactly the argument by anecdote that Trump has mastered, and that the press has bought into. We should be having political debates over facts, over aggregate facts. Jobs created, jobs lost, wages increasing. The enormous success that President Obama has created more jobs than any president in recent history, many more than Ronald Reagan, for example. That’s the kind of fact we need to focus on, not the kind of anecdotes that Donald Trump uses over and over again to both promote his ideas and to attack constructive ideas on the other side.

(....)

O’DONNELL: Jonathan Gruber, based on everything we’ve heard from Donald Trump about what he wants to do with taxes, about what we know Paul Ryan wants to do with taxes. What surprises might there be next year for the average Trump voter of average income as a result of this tax bill?

GRUBER: I think what’s very interesting about what Trump is going to do is it’s very much similar to what George Bush did. Which was given an enormous tax cut that was vastly weighted towards the richest Americans, but came along with a small tax cut for most Americans. And so if you asked most Americans, did George Bush give them a tax cut? They’ll say sure. And Trump is going to try and the Republicans are going to try the same thing. They’re going to say facts like all Americans will get a tax cut or most of the people getting a tax cut earn less than $100,000. These are absolutely misleading facts. And really, the question for Democrats, I think is most important is how do you break through that message? How do you explain without sounding wonky, without sounding off-putting, that yes, the average American may get a couple of hundred dollars back, but their kids are going to be paying thousands and thousands of dollars in higher interest charges because the tax break is going to the wealthiest Americans. That’s the challenge from the Democratic Party, how to get that message through.

(....)

DEAN: Well, first of all, I think we have to be — they have to look at the deficit, all these budget balancing groups in Washington. Some of whom are really well funded by fairly conservative but mainstream Republicans. They need to be going after the Republicans for the chicanery. First, if they use dynamic scoring, which is the only way they can even -- it can conceal the deficit. That’s just lying and chicanery and financial BS. If a private company used that, they’d be out of business within two or three years and some of them did use essentially some version of that in the private sector and they are out of business as a result of what happened in 2008. So, what we have to do is explain to people that running up more and more money on the deficit is not a way of helping America become great again. We have to become the deficit hawks, ironically, because the one thing Reagan and the two Bushs had in common is they cut taxes and they cracked the deficit up dramatically because they never balanced the budget. They cut taxes without cutting programs. I don’t think there is a lot of support in this country for cutting programs, including among those people who voted for Donald Trump. He’s promised not to cut them. The only way he can cut taxes in that case is a crank of the deficit to some enormous amount of money and we haven’t talked about the nuclear arms race he wants to put on or the infrastructure, which is even more money. You know, this is completely un-Republican to do this kind of stuff. The Democrats need to be deficit hawks. We need to talk about the deficit and get serious about it. And all those budget balancing groups in Washington funded by Republicans ought to be on our side because the Republicans are going to do nothing to make — do anything better about balancing the budget.

(....)

GRUBER: I think they’d be telling him that it would be a very unfortunate move to repeal without replace, which is what they have now. There is no replace. and essentially the repeal and delay strategy for Republicans is really not going to work, because if you take one of the legs of the stool out of the Affordable Care Act, namely individual mandate, insurance markets will collapse. And without a guaranteed replacement, you’re putting a health insurance of 30 million Americans at risk. And I think they would say to him hospitals financials will suffer, uncompensated care will go back up. And I hope they say to him don’t — where is the fire? What’s the rush? ObamaCare is working fine. If you have a better plan, that’s super. But why not develop it before rushing to get rid of something that works for more than 20 million Americans.

(....)

O’DONNELL: And Jonathan Gruber, have you heard anything, any policy ideas coming out of Republicans that you think they could conceivably be at the beginning or some kind of structure for a replacement?

GRUBER: Oh, they absolutely have a structure. There is no doubt. They even have some proposals. And to the extent we’ve seen they’ve been scored, they would at best cover half as many Americans as the Affordable Care Act. That is about 10 plus million Americans would lose health insurance without actually saving that money. Actually the typical Republican proposal would increase the deficit relative to ObamaCare because it would get rid of not only the expansions of insurance coverage, but the pay force that President Obama insisted on to make this a fiscally responsible piece of legislation. So there are plans out there. They just don’t work.

NB Daily Economy Recession Taxes Wages & Prices Health Care Medical Insurance Liberals & Democrats MSNBC The Last Word ObamaCare Video Government & Press Lawrence O'Donnell Jonathan Gruber Donald Trump Howard Dean
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