Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfruede Bringing in the Sheaves

Another bumper crop of Obamacare Schadenfreude, largely thanks to the efforts of Dr. Jonathan Gruber, MIT.

From Ace: Vermont Halts Payment to Jon Gruber
Vermont had been paying Gruber major bank to advise them on how toimplement deceive their citizens into implementing a single payer health care system.
The videos of Gruber's boastful mendacity have made these payments a hot potato of a political issue -- and now Vermont is stopping further payments.
On Wednesday, Lawrence Miller, chief of health care reform for the Gov. Peter Shumlin administration, announced that Vermont would stop payment of Gruber’s $400,000 contract with the state.
As of this week, Vermont has paid Gruber $160,000 on a contract that began July 21 and was expected to continue until Feb. 15.
From a blog comment on the next article:
A lion is up on a hill fucking a zebra. Suddenly he sees his lioness is coming. She is almost to the top. Any second she will see them.

Thinking fast the lion says to the zebra, "Quick! Act like I'm killing you."

Gruber is the zebra now. There is no good outcome for the zebra.
Are we too stupid to understand Jonathan Gruber?
Searching the name of the M.I.T. economist who's been talked about so much lately, I ran across a 2006 NYT Magazine article by David Leonhardt titled "What Makes People Give?"
... Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has conducted a mischievous experiment on the relationship between religious giving and religious observance. His inspiration was a comment his father made after he was elected treasurer of his synagogue in New Jersey. “Good,” Gruber’s father told him, with some amount of irony, “now I don’t have to go.” Somebody thinking purely about the temple might have decided that the treasurer should attend services even more often than an ordinary congregant. After all, he would need to set an example as a community leader. But someone who wanted to attain a certain commitment level — who wanted do enough to feel the warm glow of being involved in the life of the temple — would consider regular attendance and synagogue duties to be substitutes for each other.
To see how typical his father was, Gruber dug into surveys that ask people about how they spend their money and their time. Sure enough, his dad was typical. When the tax code changed in the early 1990s and made the deduction for charitable giving more valuable, the average churchgoer gave more money — and attended services less often. Gruber called his research paper “Pay or Pray.”
I'm presenting this to you as interesting on its own, but I also think it sheds light on the mind of Gruber, if that matters — does it? — in the current swirl of excitement around Gruber.
I have a little sympathy for Gruber, An academic doing pretty well by hitting his nail with his hammer, enjoying the secrets of his craft with what he thought were fellow carpenters, and rubbing shoulders with the rulers. Then came the video that told the bill payers what he thought of them.

Gruber's Obamacare payday highlights ulterior motives behind 'do something' cry

The Beltway media’s predominant bias is that, for every issue, Washington politicians should do something. The simplest explanation for this bias: it gives reporters something to write about. Inaction is bad for readership.

Democratic politicians’ uncontrollable urge to do something is tied up with their view of government’s role as the champion of justice, the wise arranger of the economy and shaper of culture.

But there’s a deeper motivation to do something, and the Republican leadership shares it: When government takes a more active role in the economy, it creates private-sector employment opportunities for the policymakers — and for their advisors, like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber, the MIT professor who won almost $400,000 in contracts from the Obama administration in a non-competitive contract process, came into the spotlight again this month when a new video surfaced in which he admitted that “lack of transparency” was crucial to passing Obamacare.

My colleague Byron York pointed to a more interesting Gruber detail: After the bill passed, Gruber won hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with state governments setting up the exchanges under Obamacare.

Gruber, then, had to mislead Americans (or maybe just their senators) in order to pass Obamacare, and that opened a gusher of lucrative contracts for him. There is no doubt that Gruber sincerely thought the country needed health-care reform. But still, his financial interest in the bill ought to have raised some skepticism about the numbers he was peddling.
When in doubt, do nothing. The problem in question is often caused by other factors and will disappear when those change.

Former Obama Adviser: Gruber Was ‘The Man’ on ObamaCare
Get the bus ready to roll over Steven Rattner.
Rattner led a White House auto-industry task force in 2009 — the same year that Gruber helped the administration craft what would eventually become Obamacare. “Jonathan Gruber was — back in the day, in 2009 — the guru on health care,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday. “I remember that when I was in the White House, he was certainly viewed as an important figure in helping put Obamacare together.”
Rattner might want to watch his back.
Jonathan Gruber Convinced Obama To Create The Individual and Employer Mandates
Paul Krugman’s Feb. 4, 2008 New York Times column cited MIT professor Jonathan Gruber’s analysis as evidence that Obama’s plan, with its lack of mandates, was inferior to Clinton’s plan.

“Mr. Gruber finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year,” Krugman wrote. “An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700…And that’s why many health care experts like Mr. Gruber strongly support mandates.”

After Obama won the presidential election in November 2008, he added Gruber to his transition team. The New York Times later reported that Gruber became “Mr. Mandate” on the Obama health care reform team. Obama finally announced his support for the mandate in July 2009, the very same month that he met personally with Gruber in the Oval Office. Obama’s decision was made during a series of Obamacare-designing White House meetings, of which Gruber was present at five.
Jon Stewart: Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber is a ‘super egghead’
Stewart first rejoiced in the fact that Obamacare’s website is “better” this year, as it allowed for 100,000 individuals to sign up for 2015 health insurance Saturday when the exchanges opened.However, as Stewart lamented, the improvement of has been completely eclipsed by Gruber’s comments that were recorded in multiple videos over past years.

Though he poked fun at Gruber’s voice and labeled him a “super egghead,” Stewart certainly didn’t reserve all of his criticism for the MIT professor.

The comedian also expressed his disappointment in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said of Gruber during a press conference last week that she doesn’t “know who he is” despite specifically naming him and touting his work in 2009.
“That’s pretty lousy,” said Stewart.

He also suggested that Democrats “come clean” and admit that they disguised the fact that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is a tax, an action that Gruber speaks of in the recently surfaced videos.

Stewart labeled this action by Democrats “pretty slimy.”
From a 12-year-old NYT article: Jonathan Gruber's "most embarrassing moment in government."
This is from an April 2002 article by David Leonhardt titled "How a Tax On Cigarettes Can Help The Taxed":
For years, economists would have said that actions speak louder than words. Whatever smokers say about quitting, they are rationally deciding that the pleasure they derive from cigarettes exceeds their cost.
Jonathan Gruber was one of these economists when he worked in the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration. Mr. Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, remembers telling other policy makers that economic theory says they should not increase cigarette taxes. People should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to smoke, he told his colleagues. Those who smoke may hurt themselves, but they will not drain the country's resources because so many of them will die before running up large Medicare bills.
Mr. Gruber called it his most embarrassing moment in government, and his discomfort with his own argument caused him to begin researching the issue when he returned to academia.....
So, there was an argument for taxation based on the costs that smokers impose on all of us because of the health problems caused by smoking, and Gruber undercut that argument with a truth. Smokers don't cost more overall because they dieearlier. Why was that so embarrassing? Well, "embarrassing" is the reporter's word, not a quote from Gruber. . .
I thought it was pretty common knowledge, but then I ran in a pretty statistically savvy crowd.  If that was his most embarrassing moment, he was doing pretty well. Until now,

Gruber on the run: Famed video commentator suddenly gets shy on camera

To be fair, he'd have to be stupid to make anymore "off the cuff" comments.

Also from the same article:
Chris Cillizza has a pretty good analysis of what’s driving Gruberama among conservatives, and why this story will have legs despite a near-blackout in the news media:
The first point is somewhat obvious. Ever since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), way back in March 2010, said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” conservatives have been convinced that Democrats either (a) don’t know what really was in the law or (b) more nefariously, Democrats knew exactly what was in the ACA and pushed it through Congress to keep the public from finding out.
If you believe “b” — as does virtually every member of the Republican base — then you see Gruber’s comments, made in a panel discussion in 2013, as the smoking gun that proves you were right all along. …
The second point is slightly more subtle but, I think, even more responsible for why Gruber and his comments have conservatives seeing red. Nothing makes conservatives more angry than the belief, which they think is widespread among liberals, that they are stupid. That if only conservatives read as much as the left or had the intellectual capacity of the left, they would see things the way the left sees them.
Cillizza calls this “conservative catnip.” This display of contempt and arrogance should really beAmerican catnip. Maybe if this got the coverage it deserves in the media, it might, which could be why most mainstream news outlets have stayed away from it. Kudos to Cillizza for reporting on it in the Washington Post.
 Chuck Todd dismisses Gruber revelations as ‘a politics story’
It took nine days before network NBC News broke the embargo on Gruber videos, and it wasMeet the Press that broke it. It is interesting then that MTP moderator Chuck Todd, the only host of one of his network’s numerous platforms to address the explosive revelations involving one of the designers of the sweeping health care reform law, would defend his colleagues’ silence.

In an appearance with NewsmaxTV host Steve Malzberg, Todd questioned the value of the Gruber story. “I’m not saying it’s not a story,” he told Malzberg, “but what is the news today of that?”

“It’s a political story” he added. “Network news, in general, hasn’t been covering the political back and forth of Washington a lot lately.”

“I don’t think this has to do with Gruber, specifically,” Todd concluded. “I would just caution people on that.”
If you think of them as democratic operatives with by-lines, you can't go wrong.

ObamaCare Shilling: L.A. Times Describes Near-Doubling in Premiums as “Fairly Stable”

and from Alexa Shrugged: My Obamacare Story in One Picture

Court Packed with Democrats Rules with Obama on Obamacare
The Washington Free Beacon reported in August on an effort by progressive judicial activists to fill the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia bench with left-leaning judges, funded in part by a dark-money network of Democratic donors called the Democracy Alliance.

Since then, the D.C. circuit court has been at the frontlines of several contentious debates over Obamacare, including the court’s September decision to rehear a case challenging a tax credit provision in the health care law.

But last Friday’s ruling is the latest indication of how newly appointed Democratic judges are impacting policy through the D.C. circuit court.

A three-judge panel upheld a provision backed by the Obama administration that would have the federal government pay for contraception coverage for employees of religious nonprofit groups that are opposed to funding the coverage directly through their insurance providers.

Some religious employers object to this plan, arguing that they would still be facilitating the purchase of contraception that they are religiously opposed to by offering insurance coverage to their employees.

The three-judge panel included Judge Cornelia Pillard and Judge Robert Wilkins, both recent Obama appointees who were opposed by Senate Republicans. The third member, Judge Judith Rogers, was appointed by President Clinton in 1994.
My advice to Mitch McConnell; go nuclear early and often.

GOP asks former ObamaCare official: What are you hiding?

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, opened the hearing by accusing Park and the White House of avoiding congressional scrutiny.

"I find your and the White House's lack of transparency intolerable," Broun told Park, "and an obstruction of this committee's role of conducting oversight."

"That begs the question: what are you hiding, Mr. Park? I have some ideas. Perhaps it is because you knew there were serious problems with prior to the launch but you did not communicate them up the chain during your meetings with the president," Broun said.

Park stated repeatedly that while he was in contact with project managers for within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), he was not responsible for the site's functionality.

"I was not a project manager who was managing and executing the day-to-day operational work of building," Park told lawmakers. "I didn't have the kind of comprehensive, detailed, deep knowledge of that project that a manager would have."

Republican lawmakers grew heated in several instances.

"You [were] the nation's CTO appointed by the president to assure the safety and the security of our networks," said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). "You can't just say this was CMS's responsibility … You can't delegate accountability. You are responsible."

No comments:

Post a Comment