Jonathan Gruber has had better weeks. For months, citizen journalist Rich Weinstein has been digging up video of the MIT professor, who has never shied away from the description "Obamacare architect," describing how the still-loathed health care law was passed. Weinstein's latest find, a video of Gruber thanking the "stupidity of the American voter" for allowing the law to pass muster with CBO, has gone viral and led to similar finds, the latest one capturing Gruber in celebration of the "basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter."
Gruber has walked back the remarks, during an appearance on (naturally) MSNBC. Republicans have not stopped battering him. "He insulted the very people, frankly, who put the president in office twice," said South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the select Benghazi committee, in a Fox News interview last night. (Fox News has run round-the-clock coverage of Gruber's gaffe addiction.) In an interview with The Washington Post, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan raised the possibility of Gruber hearings.
Jordan said House Republicans have been sending each other a blizzard of e-mails and text messages this week, and he expects the interest in "bringing [Gruber] up here to talk" will gain traction as members return to Washington. House Republicans will gather Thursday evening for their first series of votes since the election.
"I just had a colleague text me saying, 'We've got to look into this!" Jordan said as he glanced at his phone outside the House floor Wednesday morning.
Some context: Jordan is one of the Republicans often mentioned as a candidate to take the House Oversight gavel next year, when Representative Darrell Issa is term-limited of the job. Issa himself has mentioned Gowdy, Jordan, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz—who's angling most obviously for the promotion—as the most likely successors. And Chaffetz, who's been traveling, has not ignored the Gruber remarks.
The Republicans who are not currently jockeying to lead an oversight committee for the final years of the Obama presidency are not quite as ready for hearings. When asked if he thought the Gruber video warranted more investigation from Congress, incoming Senator Majority Whip John Cornyn pivoted.
"It kinda ripped the mask off of Obamacare," he said. "They depended on the fact that it was complicated, that people hadn't read it, that they didn't understand it. It just reinforced the message that that's a bad way to legislate."
There's no actual disagreement, among Republicans, that Gruber's arrogant verbal stylings are wonderful messaging tools. In his Fox News interview, Gowdy said that Gruber proved why "comprehensive bills," of any kind, were trojan horse disasters. That's what Republicans said about immigration reform through much of 2014; that will be repeated. The only question is whether the party decides that battering Gruber on Fox News is enough, or that the cause would be served by putting the Obamacare architects under oath.