Friday, November 21, 2014

More Gruber Obamacare Schadenfreude

While Obama's executive amnesty has  distracted from the onslaught of the Grubnado, a little has leaked through around the edges of the storm door:

ABC, NBC Nightly Newscasts Now 10 Days into Ignoring Gruber Scandal
Over the past ten nights, ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC’s Nightly News haven’t just buried the story in some throwaway segment late in their respective programs; they haven’t mentioned Gruber or the controversy in any capacity. Some could argue the decision to omit has been made because the news cycle has been heavy on the breaking news front. Except that hasn’t remotely been the case.

Ebola went from being the media’s modern version of the Black Death to as non-existent as CNN’s Bill Weir (whatever happened to that guy, anyway?). ISIS is still menacing but until it attempts to take Baghdad or pulls off some kind of terror attack against a Western target, it will remain a relatively stagnant story (compared to the attention it gained following the beheading of James Foley). And with Ferguson, until a grand jury decision is made, it’s simply all speculation.

We’ve been locked in a relatively standard news cycle since the midterm elections, thereby giving ABC and NBC nothing resembling cover for spiking the Gruber story.
It isn't deemed worthy of coverage if it can't be spun for the democrats.

Jake Tapper: An Actual Reporter Explains Grubergate Effectively (Video)

By way of Wombat-socho's "In the Mailbox: 11.20.14", Megan McArdle has an article as insightful as ever, so much so, I can't effectively cut and paste from it, but here is one nugget: GruberGate's Insider Problem
No, what really disturbs me is the sight of so many journalists acting like insiders.

I don't subscribe to the mythical ideal of journalist-as-crusader, "afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted." There's a lot of necessary journalism that doesn't fit that model, for one thing; for another, when people do adopt this motto, the targets for afflicting and comforting tend to map a little too easily onto the cultural preoccupations of the journalist demographic. But I do subscribe to the ideal of journalism as fundamentally responsible to readers, not to the governments, businesses or organizations they cover. When it comes to the policy process, we're ultimately supposed to be outsiders, not insiders.
. . .
So when I see journalists saying that Gruber's revelations don't matter because he's just kind of awkwardly saying something that everyone knew, I get a little jittery. I am not "everyone," and neither are any of those journalists. We're a tiny group of people with strange preoccupations who get paid to spend our time understanding and explaining this stuff. The fact that we may have mentioned it once to our readers, in the 18th paragraph, does not mean that readers read it and understood what it meant. (In fact, if you actually interact with your readers, you'll be astonished at how little they remember of what you told them, especially if you didn't go out of your way to headline it. Their minds are already crammed full of information that they need to, you know, live their lives. So they tend to take away a few big bullet points, not the piddling details.)
Gruber and Barro Are Wrong to Assume the Public is Stupid
The public opinions described as “incoherent” to justify deceit are not in fact incoherent at all.

Barro argued, “Jonathan Gruber was right. Public opinion on health care policy is just completely incoherent. People think we ought to have health care plans that are cheap, that provide high quality coverage to everyone, that everyone should see whatever doctor they want, they don't want their premiums to go up, they don’t want to pay for anything through taxes.” He then concluded: “The public puts politicians in a position where the only thing they can do to make the public happy is lie and so, people lied.”

Barro is wrong here. There is nothing incoherent about the views he lists. Imagine a healthcare market in which most of our routine health expenditures were not purchased through insurance, and that insurance instead primarily protected people against catastrophic health events threatening their financial security. In such a market people would be able to choose their own doctors, plans would offer cheaper premiums, and there would be no inherent reason it must be financed through taxes.

Contradictions only arise when we combine Barro’s public wish list with certain existing policy phenomena, including:
  • Requiring everyone to carry comprehensive health insurance covering various routine services, irrespective of whether this makes sense for them;
  • Substantial and opaque income redistribution through the healthcare system;
  • Financing seniors’ health services through federal taxes;
  • Maintaining the tax preference for compensation in the form of health benefits over wages;
  • Securing the political support of health insurance companies.
Liberals think the voters are stupid because they often disagree with their plans. See executive amnesty.

Remember When the NIH Said They Didn’t Have Enough Money to Fight Ebola? They’re Paying Jonathan Gruber $2 Million
Republicans are asking the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to defend a multimillion dollar grant given to ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber in light of his controversial comments on the law’s passage.

“Recent developments related to Dr. Gruber raise questions about his objectivity and judgment, and thus the utility of his research,” Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.) wrote in a letter to NIH Director Francis Collins Wednesday.

“Further, the award of this grant causes major concerns regarding NIH’s funding priorities,” they wrote.

Pitts leads the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health, and Harris serves on the Appropriations Committee.

The letter stated that Gruber has received $1.5 million from the National Institute on Aging to study how seniors choose between plans in Medicare Part D. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor is “on pace” to receive more than $2 million for the project, Republicans said.
At this point, employing Gruber is tantamount to admitting you wish to deceive your citizens.

Gruber and the shenanigans of Leviathan
Invoking a secret computer model is more suasive in today’s Washington than the tricks Merlin the magician practiced in King Arthur’s court. Econometrics has long been a tool to sanctify almost any half-witted intervention politicians favored. For instance, the farm lobby has never lacked arcane models crafted by government agricultural economists proving that America benefits from paying farmers more than their crops are worth.
By way of Wombat-socho's "Live at FiveEight: 11.21.14"  Jammie Wearing Fools: Trey Gowdy On Gruber – “Let Him Keep Talking”

I strongly agree; the more we hear from Gruber and those like him, whose cynical lies were essential to the passage of Obamacare, the less likely voters are to trust those legislators in the future.

But the White House doesn't always require Gruber to commit an act of deception, sometimes they manage on their own: White House wrongly counted dental plans in Obamacare enrollment numbers
The Obama administration included dental plan sign-ups in a recent report of Obamacare enrollment numbers, Bloomberg News reported Thursday afternoon.

The White House had previously said in September 7.3 million people were enrolled in insurance coverage through the marketplaces. An analysis of those enrollments, provided to Bloomberg by the House Oversight and Government Committee, shows that as many as 400,000 of those plans were just for dental coverage and not medical plans.

Health and Human Services has issued a statement saying the numbers were included by "mistake" and that, without including dental plans, Obamacare enrollment is currently at 6.7 million:
This is only important because the administration set it benchmark for enrollment success at 7 million. Without counting teeth, their were short of their mark by 10%.

And the fruits of Gruberism keep dropping: Rural Nebraskans hit with big ObamaCare rate hikes
Allan Douglas has been selling insurance since the 1980s, and as the owner of an independent insurance agency in Omaha he had a front row view of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Not only because he helps clients navigate the health care law, commonly called ObamaCare, but because he also had to navigate it himself, since he buys his own insurance. As enrollment began Saturday for the second year of the program, people on ObamaCare plans began getting letters from their insurance companies explaining rate changes.
“Our phones are starting to light up,” said Douglas, who owns Pioneer Interstate Insurance. “Most (rates) are doubling.”
He also got a letter from his insurance company informing him his premium will double next year, from $594 to $1,204 per month, if he qualifies for a $260 monthly federal tax credit again.
But who cares what happens to people out in fly-over country, as long as the people who live and work along the bank of the Charles River are still getting their big consultant fees.

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