See you on the TV, call you every day. Fly across the ocean, just to let you get your way. No one understands me – where I’m coming from. Why would I be with someone who’s obviously so dumb? Love comes. Love grows every time you rise to meet me – take my hand to greet me. Love comes. Love grows, and power can give a man much more than anybody knows. Oh-oh, I’m with Stupid. Who would have known that the Pet Shop Boy’s 2006 song about Tony Blair’s relationship with George W. Bush would describe the feelings of one of the architects of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act less than 10 years later.
I really do not like to be catty or speak poorly of others – outside of people who give my profession a bad name. Dr. Jonathan Gruber is one of those people. I had the pleasure of dealing with Dr. Gruber in the past, and he has a history of producing questionable reports to support his clients’ agenda. So I personally don’t think much of professor Gruber or his work, but in the case of declaring the American taxpayer to be stupid, I have to agree with the good doctor. The very fact that the taxpayers paid Dr. Gruber nearly $400,000 to shill for the Administration (according to a report by ABC News) proves that we must be stupid.
Gruber is a classic example of someone who uses his associations (in this case with MIT) as a shield for what can best be described as make-believe economics. Not voodoo economics, but something totally fact-free. This was the way that Gruber approached his “research” when he was shilling for the trial lawyers working on the tobacco settlements – settlements which gave lawyers billions of dollars taken directly from tax paying Americans. In this case, he has done the same thing with the Affordable Care Act, and used fact-free analysis as a justification for a structure that cannot possibly work.
Note that I’m not saying that the goals of the ACA are either good nor bad, but rather that the way that they are being obtained is based on junk economics. At least in this case Dr. Gruber publicly admitted that the Act and his work in support of it was designed to obfuscate and confuse both policy makers and the public.
I have been called a shill a lot of times, but I always make sure that the research that we do for all of our clients is based on facts, based on sound methodologies and presented in a transparent way. This is not what was done by those proposing either the tobacco settlements nor the ACA, and Jonathon Gruber is one of the worst when it comes to obscuring the actual results of analysis.
Economics is a much maligned profession, and those practitioners who have access to powerful positions have an obligation to ensure that the work they produce is honest, clear and free from a clear political agenda. Why would I be with someone who’s obviously so dumb? I’m not.