Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber apologizes for remarks about stupidity of voters
Economist Jonathan Gruber speaks at a conference of the Workers Compensation Research Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber apologized on Tuesday for his recent remarks about "the stupidity of the American voter," telling a congressional committee he did not think President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law was passed in a deceptive manner.

Gruber, a healthcare economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he had not intended to denigrate the 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

"I would like to begin by apologizing sincerely for the offending comments that I made," Gruber told the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I behaved badly, and I will have to live with that, but my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act," Gruber said.

Republicans, who have repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, have seized on videos of Gruber in which he says the law was written in a "very tortured way" to hide taxes and that "the stupidity of the American voter" helped ensure its passage.

Representative Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the panel, said Gruber was called to testify about possible deceptions and a lack of transparency in the act.

But at the start of the hearing, Gruber also endured a lecture from the committee's top Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings, who called the economist's comments "absolutely stupid" and "insulting."

"They were irresponsible, incredibly disrespectful, and did not reflect reality," Cummings said.

All the same, he said, for the Republicans to call in Gruber to testify about them was simply "political theater" that was part of the Republican attack on Obamacare.

(Editing by John Whitesides and James Dalgleish)