An architect of Obamacare who said last year that the "stupidity of the American voter" helped pass the law said Tuesday that he regretted making that comment, but stopped short of apologizing.
"The comments that were made at an academic conference, I was speaking off the cuff, and I basically spoke inappropriately and I regret having made those comments," Jonathan Gruber, now a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told MSNBC.
Over the weekend, video surfaced from 2013 in which Gruber admitted that the law was designed in a non-transparent way in order to ensure its passage.
"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes," he said at one point. "If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies."
"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Gruber added. "And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass."
While Gruber apologized on Tuesday, he continued to stress that Obamacare was designed as a tax bill because it would not have been possible to write it as a spending bill.
"Public policy that involves spending is typically less political palatable than policy that involves doing things through the tax code," he told MSNBC. He noted he preferred to pass it like a spending bill, just as Massachusetts passed its health care bill as a spending measure.
"That was politically infeasible, and so instead, it was done through the tax code, and that's the only point I was making," he said.
Gruber also insisted that the Supreme Court is only being forced to review the law again because of a "typo." He said rushing the law through the Senate created a law that had "some typos" in it.
The Court will soon rule on whether Obamacare allows the federal government to offer insurance subsidies to people in states that have not set up their own insurance exchanges. Gruber and other Democrats have said they intended to allow those subsidies, and that only a drafting error prevented it from happening.
"It's just a typo," he said.