(Bloomberg Politics) — “I think we have the chance to make history here,” wrote Jonathan Gruber.
It was the summer of 2014, and Gruber, who had yet to become the infamous goat of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) debate, was consulting with the state of Vermont on its health-care reforms.
He was not wrong: Vermont, run stem-to-stern by Democrats since the 2010 election, was attempting to use the benefits of PPACA to enact single-payer, universal health care coverage. If successful, it would bring about the dream of Canadian-style care to one state. Who could say which states would follow suit? Maybe all of New England? Maybe all 50?
Months later, Gruber’s contract with the state was quietly wrapped up. And yesterday, Gov. Peter Shumlin pre-empted an end-of-year report on the single-payer effort by announcing that the reform plan would be set aside.
“The bottom line,” he said, “is as we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan that I can responsibly support for passage in the Legislature.”
It was a resounding defeat for progressive governance, and conservatives are giving a little backhanded credit to Gruber.
Tea Party activist and Breitbart.com contributor Michael Patrick Leahy calls the single-payer plan the “first casualty” of Gruber’s gaffes.
Ever since conservative watchdogs dug up a video of Gruber mocking a constituent complaint about single-payer, Gruber had been sidelined as an effective, trustworthy advocate for the plan. That was especially problematic as a state representative from Shumlin’s own party, Cynthia Browning, was suing the state for more records about the cost estimates.