It’s hard to believe that I would actually link to a Jane Hamsher article at the Huffington Post without reveling in its stupidity but this article is quite good, well researched, and doesn’t pull any biased punches. When Obama is pissing off the far left, things are baaaad.
Here we got the tale of Jonathan Gruber, a MIT genius or something, who was paid close to 400 thousand dollars to do an analysis of ObamaCare….and the White House used that analysis to sell the bill without disclosing the relationship:
The White House is placing a giant collective bet on Gruber’s “assumptions” to justify key portions of the Senate bill such as the “Cadillac tax,” which they allowed people to believe was independent verification. Now that we know that Gruber’s work was not that of an independent analyst but rather work performed as a contractor to the White House and paid for by taxpayers, and economists like Larry Mishel are raising serious questions about its validity, it should be made publicly available so others can judge its merits.
Gruber began negotiating a sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services in February of 2009, for which he was ultimately paid $392,600. The contract called for Gruber to use his statistical model for evaluating alternatives “derived from the President’s health reform proposal.” It was not a research grant, but rather a consulting contract to advise the White House Office of Health Reform, headed by Obama’s health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, to “develop proposals” for health care reform.
How did the feedback loop work? Well, take Gruber’s appearance before the Senate HELP Committee on November 2, 2009, for which he used his microsimulation model to make calculations about small business insurance coverage. On the same day, Gruber released an analysis of the House health care bill, which he sent to Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. Ezra published an excerpt.
White House blogger Jesse Lee then promoted both Gruber’s Senate testimony and Ezra Klein’s article on the White House blog. “We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day” he said, pointing to Gruber’s “objective analysis.” The “transparent” part apparently stopped when everyone got to Gruber’s contractual relationship to the White House, which nobody in the three-hit triangle bothered to disclose.
But that was child’s play compared to the effort that went into selling Gruber’s analysis of the bill unveiled by the Senate on Wednesday, November 18. Two days later on Friday November 20, Gruber published a paper entitled “Impacts of the Senate High Cost Insurance Excise Tax on Wages: Updated,” claiming that the excise tax would result in wage hikes of $234 billion from 2013 through 2019.
And it was off to the races.
The next day on the 21st, Ron Brownstein wrote in the Atlantic about Gruber’s effusive praise for the cost-cutting measures in the bill: “Everything is in here….I can’t think of anything I’d do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn’t have done better than they are doing,” says Gruber.
On Monday the 23rd, the DNC was sending the Brownstein column around in its entirety…one of 71 emails they would send touting Gruber’s work. It was also included in OFA’s Monday Morning News Clips on BarackObama.com.
On Tuesday the 24th, OFA had another post touting the Brownstein article and citing Gruber as a “self-proclaimed skeptic on this stuff. The DNC sent that around, too. Mike Allen wrote that Obama had made the Brownstein article “mandatory reading” in the West Wing. TPM had the scoop that Rahm Emanuel told senior staffers “not to come back to the next day’s meeting if they hadn’t read the article.”
David Brooks of the New York Times was not convinced that the Senate bill would be deficit neutral, so Peter Orszag pointed him to the Brownstein’s “insightful article on health care costs” on the White House OMB blog that same day. It’s hard to believe Orszag didn’t know about Gruber’s contract — a search of the White House visitor logs indicates he met with Gruber on March 26, the day after his HHS contract was first awarded.
Paul Krugman cited Gruber’s glowing analysis in the Brownstein article — “this is the best effort anyone has made” — as one of the reasons he supported the Senate bill, noting that “the health care economists I respect are seriously impressed by the cost-control measures.” Rahm Emanuel subsequently cited Krugman and Brownstein to Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal as evidence of a “progressive backlash against the progressive backlash” to dismiss liberal criticism of the bill. Jeff Bingaman mentioned the Krugman piece on the floor of the Senate, and entered it into the Congressional Record.
It gets better. Much of the media offered up Grubers analysis as proof that ObamaCare was the epitome of awesomeness. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and John Kerry used the analysis to sell the POS also.
Hamsher ends with this:
What was Gruber’s role in crafting the Senate bill? Nobody will say. Is he in effect grading his own work when he praises the bill? We don’t know. What we do know is that the White House engaged an expert who was quite likely to reach the conclusions he reached, because he’d been making similar claims for years. And they worked hard to promote his work as independent validation of their plan, when in fact he was an integral part of it.
And compares the recent calls for the release of AIG emails and internal documents by some politicians to this situation.
…now that it is known that Jonathan Gruber was a White House consultant, the assumptions that have been used by the White House to estimate the impact of the health care bill for decades to come should be made publicly available.
My head’s spinning….what planet are we on? Wait a minute; the MSM is ignoring the story as usual….now I know we are still on planet earth.