I had seen people in print refer to this, but it helps to watch the actual video. Many of my libertarian brethren (and sistren) think this is obviously Gruber saying the feds intended for the subsidy carrots to induce the states to set up their exchanges for the ACA. However, the one thing that troubles me in that interpretation is his use of the term “backstop.” Watch the short clip and then consider my two interpretations of what Gruber is saying.
Option #2 (progressive escape hatch): Gruber is saying that if the state doesn’t set up an exchange, then the feds will have to, and of course the people in that state are then eligible for subsidies too. When Gruber warned about the citizens losing out on tax credits, he was merely referring to the interim period when the bungling and slow-moving feds were trying to set up their own exchange.
I am leaning toward Option #1, and my strongest bit of evidence is the “billions of dollars” line. If Gruber had been merely referring to a one-shot missing out of subsidies, would the number have been that big? Well, it’s hard to say, since this is Gruber after all–maybe he had some crazy scenario in mind where the feds drag their feet for years, and he wants the states to do the policy he wants, so why not say whatever pops into his head?
I’m genuinely not sure how to interpret this video. You would think it would be decisive, and yet he doesn’t (in my mind) come down clearly enough in one camp or the other to be absolutely certain.
(Naturally, I am here referring to this one, short video. There is other evidence we could examine to determine whether the infamous four words in the legislation were a typo or not.)