Over the last three weeks, MIT professor and Affordable Care Act (ACA) architect Jonathan Gruber has gone from being an academic, known mostly in policy circles, to the face of political dishonesty and manipulation. Gruber, who helped create and sell the ACA to the American people, has been caught on tape admitting—on multiple occasions—that the law was written to mislead the public.
But that’s not all that he’s done. As originally reported by Jerome Corsi, Gruber is the author of at least two separate reports arguing that legalized abortion has tremendous social benefit. His work also provided some of the foundation for the 2005 book, Freakonomics, which promoted the idea of abortion as a means of improving society’s children.
In a 1997 working paper, Gruber and two co-authors argued that “children born immediately after” the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision saw “improved” lives. From the paper:
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“The average living circumstances of cohorts of children born immediately after abortion became legalized improved substantially relative to preceding cohorts, and relative to places where the legal status of abortion was not changing,” wrote the three co-authors, who compared the five states that had legalized abortion prior to Roe to those who had not. “Our results suggest that the marginal children who were not born as a result of abortion legalization would have systematically been born into less favorable circumstances if the pregnancies had not been terminated: they would have been 60 percent more likely to live in a single-parent household, 50 percent more likely to live in poverty, 45 percent more likely to be in a household collecting welfare, and 40 percent more likely to die during the first year of life.”
As such, wrote Gruber and his co-authors, the data “impl[ies] that the legalization of abortion saved the government over $14 billion in welfare expenditures through 1994.”
A 2009 version of the paper, also co-authored by Gruber, concluded that “marginal children” saw improved lives, including an “increased likelihood of college graduation, lower rates of welfare use, and lower odds of being a single parent.”
Gruber’s work wasn’t just seen by academics. The 2005 book Freakonomics—co-authored by another supporter of abortion as a social good, Steven Levitt—took its abortion section from Levitt’s 2001 paper, “The Impact of Abortion on Crime,” which argued that legalized abortion was responsible for a lower crime rate in the 1990s. And Gruber’s work greatly influenced that paper.
In the 2001 paper, Levitt and co-author John Donohue cited Gruber’s work on at least three occasions, calling the final 1999 paper “most similar to ours, [which] document[s] that the early life circumstances of those children on the margin of abortion are difficult along many dimensions: infant mortality, growing up in a single-parent family, and experiencing poverty.” They also note that “previous research has found that an adverse family environment is strongly linked to future criminality”—and Gruber’s paper was all about “adverse family environments.”
Levitt’s argument was, of course, found to have significant flaws in several areas, including its historical analysis and the impact of growing prisons on crime. But both Levitt and Gruber have provided an intellectual and academic foundation for the liberal idea that society benefits from the slaughter of the unborn—because, allegedly, taxpayers benefit, as do the would-be peers of aborted children.
However, in addition to being morally abhorrent, both men’s arguments fail to account for two political decisions made by the party of abortion that prove the inconsistency of their arguments.
First, Newsbusters found a strong link tying Gruber to the current effort to provide ACA health benefits to illegal immigrants—analysis and data provided by Gruber that could lead to Congressman Joe Wilson’s “You lie” cry in 2009 being totally and completely justified.
How is this relevant to Gruber’s pro-abortion argument? Nearly half of illegal immigrants have not graduated from high school, and their median income is 28 percent lower than that of native-born Americans, according to this brief from 2012.
In other words, it seems that Gruber—and President Obama, and HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who previously headed worldwide population control efforts for the Gates Foundation—think that babies born to poor American mothers aren’t worth the alleged “cost” because they tend to be less educated and poorer. But if you’re born somewhere else, come on in!
Additionally, a report released last week by Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector showed that the concerns expressed by Gruber about single families and poverty are exacerbated by the type of government policies enacted by the ACA.
According to Rector, issues like single motherhood are made worse by federal welfare programs, including Medicaid—which has been enlarged in many states through the ACA. Rector highlighted how “the overwhelming majority of assistance to families with children goes to single-parent households,” and two ways this hurts families.
First, said Rector, welfare reduces “the financial need for marriage.” In other words, the government takes the place of working fathers.
Second, said Rector, because welfare programs are designed to lower benefits as household income goes up, the programs are “actively penaliz[ing] low-income parents who do marry.” Again, the allegedly helpful programs incentivize single mothers to not marry because marriage brings in more income—and thus, reduces welfare benefits.
It is right and just that Gruber is under so much pressure for his comments about the “stupidity” of the American voter and the Obama administration’s lies about the ACA. It’s unfortunate that his ideology hasn’t just been limited to health care, but also to the destruction of the unborn.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared November 25, 2014 on the CNSNews.com website and is reprinted with permission.