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November 18, 2014

Gruber Truthers Really Need to Shut The F*** Up Now

Sean Davis calls those on the left contending that Jon Gruber wasn't the architect-architect of Obamacare "Gruber Truthers," and demolishes their silly hackeries in a zesty piece.

Now enter Jonathan Cohn of TNR.

Cohn has long been a direct conduit for Obamacare spin from Gruber. As a result, Cohn pitches himself as a true expert on Obamacare, one of the few people who followed every zig and zag of the law as it moved through the legislative process. He then uses this authority-by-osmosis to bash the notion that Obamacare prohibits federal subsidies from flowing through federal exchanges. And how does Cohn describe Gruber? Why, as Obamacare's architect. Over and over and over again. It's almost as if Cohn had a keyboard macro specifically designed to refer to MIT economist Jonathan Gruber as Obamacareís architect. Let's take a look back at a few of the different ways Cohn described Gruber before the Halbig/King/Burwell unpleasantness began.

On May 21, 2010, in an article entitled "How They Did It," here's how Cohn described Gruber:

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the plan's architects, led a group of center-left intellectuals who hyped the experimentís success and touted it as a model for national action in articles, speeches, and consultation with prominent Democratic Party politicians.

...

Or take this passage by Cohn from May 21, 2012:

I'll have more to say about Massachusetts and, in particular, the cost control efforts later in the week. But for now I'll leave you with the verdict of Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who was a key architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare[.]

Here's how Cohn described Gruber in an article from January 30, 2014:

For many people, the Patient CARE Act really would mean cheaper insurance, just like the proposalís champions say. But thatís because there'd be less security. "It doesn't work if you're poor or if you're sick--other than that, it's ok," quips Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist and Obamacare architect.

Why are all of Cohnís characterizations of Gruber as the "architect" of Obamacare important? Because Cohn introduced a new Gruber exoneration theory yesterday: sure Gruber was an architect, but not that kind of architect:

Let's start with the question of whether Gruber was, as he himself sometimes says, an "architect" of Obamacare. He was, but not in the sense that most people are using the word.

That is some straight-up amazing historical revisionism right there. First off, note how Cohn passively lets himself off the hook for his own fawning descriptions of Gruber. Who referred to Gruber as an "architect of Obamacare?" Gruber did. Silly Gruber. And is the use of the word "architec"Ē important? Well, yes, kind of, but only if you understand what the word architect really means.

Come. On. I hate to break it to you all, but Gruber doesn't get to be an architect of Obamacare and Romneycare when you want to use his authority and credentials to bash Republicans or spin for the law, and then radically transform into one of three Jon Grubers who just happens to live in Obama's neighborhood once Gruber becomes a massive liability for the Left.

Yesterday, Bret Baier tweeted this old 2010 column from Jane Hamsher of the very progressive Fire Dog Lake blog. Despite being leftist as all get out, Hamsher was a fierce critic of Obamacare.

Her column describes how the Administration deployed Jon Gruber, presenting him as a neutral, objective third-party analyst of Obamacare, without disclosing he was in fact on their payroll -- and how the liberal media took his remarks and repeated them hundreds of times, until it seemed like there was a huge consensus on Gruber's plan.

Up until this point, most of the attention regarding the failure to disclose the connection between Jonathan Gruber and the White House has fallen on Gruber himself.

She's referring to a 2010 op-ed by Gruber, praising Obamacare, which ran in the New York Times -- which did not disclose that Gruber was actually a paid consultant on Obamacare.

Far more troubling, however, is the lack of disclosure on the part of the White House, the Senate, the DNC and other Democratic leaders who distributed Gruber's work and cited it as independent validation of their proposals, orchestrating the appearance of broad consensus when in fact it was all part of the same effort.

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....

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.

Um, yeah, you can't think of anything you'd do that they weren't doing in the bill because it was your bill, but of course you were hiding that from the public.

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.

And so on. (She has a lot more than that, believe it or not.)

It was this background that, I think, provoked Jonah Goldberg's disgusted rant on the Bret Baier show, in which Dude Went Off:

In a lot of ways, this spectacle represents not just everythingís thatís wrong with the Obama administration, it's everything wrong with liberalism and a lot that's wrong with America itself.

You've got this guy who is pretending to be an objective independent analyst, who's got huge amounts of skin in the game in terms of money he can make off of consulting fees, but also of the prestige being involved and the speeches he could do which haven't been tallied into these numbers -- anyway, it's millions of dollars -- being touted around through a transmission belt of liberal journalists, who all are all pretending to be objective analysts too, quoting each other, reaffirming each other, all with the help of the White House which went along with this soup to nuts -- a process which this guy says was all about lies and misleading the American people. And then when caught about it, the same administration tries to dismiss him as if he was just some sort of random White House intruder. The whole thing stinks.

It's not just that's he's getting rich, it's the hypocrisy that every time Republicans complain about ObamaCare, they say "Oh, it's just because those evil, profit-hungry Koch brothers are trying to get rich," which was always a lie. It's also that this law itself makes American life more complex and then there's this leaching new class of people who profit from the complexity that they are imposing upon the society.

It's all connected, and it's all corrupt.


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posted by Ace at 02:49 PM

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