Marcy Wheeler TeeVee – Jonathan Gruber and the Cadillac Plan

There has been a fair amount of misinformation and disinformation about what has been said by Marcy Wheeler on this blog about Jonathan Gruber, his modeling work on healthcare and relationship with the Obama Administration. One instance in this regard, quite unfortunately, was notably made by Paul Krugman. Mr. Krugman, who is a solid liberal voice and worthy of respect, nevertheless very unfairly tarred Marcy with complaints he had, or perceived, with others and he owes better.

First off, I would like to point out the matter of Gruber started primarily about the duty and obligation of disclosure, and there was, unequivocally, a failure in full disclosure by both Mr. Gruber and the White House, both relying on his work (inferring that it was independent), and simultaneously funding it, whether directly or indirectly. For Mr. Krugman to extrapolate that out to being “just like the right-wingers with their endless supply of fake scandals” was startling and beyond the pale. There was also no foundation for it from Marcy’s words and statements on this blog.

The foregoing is something that I, bmaz, felt compelled to say; if you disagree, then your beef is with me, not Marcy, not Firedoglake, nor anybody else. Now, with that said, I wish to present Marcy Wheeler and let her speak for herself about exactly what the Gruber matter is about, and what it means. The attached video clip is from a MSNBC interview of Marcy conducted by David Shuster Tuesday morning.

It should be noted that Marcy was covering the North American International Auto show in Detroit when MSNBC interviewed her, as David Shuster notes. What David didn’t catch was that, the whole time he was discussing the infamous “Cadillac tax” Mr. Gruber’s work is central to, Marcy was standing in front of the Cadillac display. Now that is product placement!

Interestingly enough, in discussing the Cadillac tax, Paul Krugman has flat out admitted the claims of insurance premium reductions leading to wage increases are “exaggerated” and that “Cadillac plans aren’t really luxurious — they reflect genuinely high costs.” Mr. Krugman might want to take a look at the most recent work by Larry Mishel, an economist Mr. Krugman has cited before; in fact the exact economist Paul cited as support for the fact that the wage growth claims were “exaggerated”. Mr. Mishel’s new article seems to undercut the entire Cadillac tax thesis as to wage movement.

UPDATE: Economist Larry Mishel, who was linked to in the main post and referred to with seeming approval by Paul Krugman as well (link to that also in main post) put the following in a comment to his FDL Seminal Post yesterday:

I do think Gruber’s claim about the wage impact of lower health care inflation in the 1990s (and the reverse trends in the 200s) was wrong: The simple tale seemed to support his policy desire to curtail health care costs via the excise tax but digging into the details shows that health care costs have not driven wage trends. This does not mean that lower health care costs might not lead to better wages, just that the scale of the impact won’t move wages appreciably.

I may differ with many of you on the site though in that I don’t impugn Gruber’s motives. I don’t think there’s much of a scandal regarding his contract with HHS. I think his error in the case I’m criticizing is that he’s a health care economist and doesn’t know the details about wage trends. I, on the other hand, have been studying wages for thirty years or more. Gruber clearly over-reached with the argument about health care driving wage trends and has acknowledged that to me privately (yesterday).

So, I think he’s wrong on this issue and I also disagree with him on the overall merits of the health excise tax. But I think he’s a pretty smart, reasonable and straightforward economist. I’ve had to debate some pretty scummy economists and he’s not one of them. (emphasis added)

I agree with Mr. Mishel about the absence of malice by Mr. Gruber. But malice was never ascribed by Marcy Wheeler, she merely pointed out that there was a simple failure to fully disclose potential conflict information, that others had an interest in knowing, and that the assumptions Mr. Gruber’s model was based on may not be correct. These points have been borne out by others, indeed effectively by Paul Krugman himself and other experts he relies on. The tarring that occurred from Paul should be retracted.

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  1. Mauimom says:

    I posted this over at Jane’s diary this morning.

    Marcy, just viewed the clip.

    I didn’t see Schuster’s introduction, but based on what I saw, I have the following suggestion:

    One can NEVER underestimate the intelligence of tv viewers. I don’t know if David teed this up, or if you’re willing to use some of your scarce time to do so, but even I — a faithful reader of FDL — needed a quick reminder/framing.

    So I’d suggest saying, “let’s take a minute, David, to remind everyone where we are. We’re talking about paying for health care ‘reform.’ The House bill wants to pay for it by taxing millionaires. The Senate bill wants to pay for it by taxing what it terms ‘Cadillac plans’ — namely plans covering union members and others in the middle class.

    “The rationale that Senators and the WH are using for this ‘tax the Cadillac plans’ argument is some economic models run by Gruber.

    “Turns out, though, that Gruber’s NOT an independent eye evaluating this; he’s been paid by the WH/Administration.

    “We think it’s important that he ‘conveniently’ forgot to disclose this tie to the WH.

    “We’d like to have a more impartial look at the effect on middle class families of this ‘Cadillac tax.’ We don’t think Gruber’s estimates/projections can be relied upon.”

    You can surely do this 3,000 times better than I’ve set up, but I think folks out there watching in media land need to have this tied to themselves, and to see how this is just a piece of Obama & Friends selling them down the river.

    If they think it’s just a pie fight between academics, or between academics and bloggers, they’ll move along. They need to know its’ about them.

    PS – you looked GREAT in the clip. Content even better.

  2. Xenos says:

    Don’t mean to be trolling, but I am really stumped on three points.

    1. While this tax will nip some middle class folks, and most especially certain union members, are people aware that extremely generous medical plans, you could call them ‘Lamborghini’ plans, are used to shelter tens of thousands of dollars of compensation each to executives, law partners, and other very highly compensated persons? Is it so bad to hit some middle class folks with a light bit of tax when it allows you to nail what is essentially a massive, institutionalized system of tax evasion?

    2. If middle class persons get hit with a 20% tax hit on part of their income, but receive offsetting tax cuts in the next budget bill, have they really suffered a tax increase in violation of Obama’s campaign promises?

    3. Unions have negotiated to receive income in the form of medical benefits. If a new tax structure comes into place that penalizes this arrangement, why can’t unions demand more normal compensation on the next contract? Granted, the economy sucks right now and that compensation may be lost for the time being, but I don’t see how that is necessarily Obama’s fault.

    • qweryous says:

      Response to #1: Don’t worry, the ‘Lamborghini’ plans will mutate into ‘Bugatti’ plans so as to escape taxation. Please remember too that it is never tax evasion when highly compensated individuals are being discussed.
      Tax planning, income scheduling, those terms might be approved for use in this context. The planning and analysis to make this possible is going on right now as the bill is being written.

      Response to #2: Have yet to see the promise made to offset this tax revenue in some future budget bill. It seems that I’ve been told that this tax increase (the one on health insurance benefits) is necessary to pay for health care reform. If the tax revenues are not spent on Health Care Reform, the necessary favorable changes needed to obtain the votes for passage can’t happen. If I have misunderstood this, then perhaps someone can promise offsetting tax cuts in the future. I will point out there are some rumors of imbalance in the budget, pressure may be there to increase revenue, or decrease spending: Value of a potential future promise may be limited.

      Response to #3: Unions can demand whatever they think they can get. In today’s economic environment do you think that will happen? How might such a demand turn out? Whoops overlooked your statement: “Granted, the economy sucks right now and that compensation may be lost for the time being,”, we must therefore be in agreement on the point?

      The second half of the sentence you posted is:
      “but I don’t see how that is necessarily Obama’s fault.”

      With respect to this point if the ‘that’ is the presence of the new tax on health insurance benefits, yes,I think that has happened due to the administrations handling of the health care reform process.

  3. Loo Hoo. says:

    So great to see Marcy back on Schuster’s program. She sat in the naughty chair long enought! Here’s to lots more airtime!

    • Leen says:

      David Schuster about Marcy’s reporting “ground breaking reporting” Hot damn Marcy did not say blowjob. Which totally applied the last time EW was on. Schuster knows a brilliant person when he hears one. Marcy thanks for dig dig digging

      I always like him as an interviewer when he fills in. I have heard him ask some of the most hard driving questions on main stream media outlets.

      • freepatriot says:

        Hot damn Marcy did not say blowjob

        what ???

        did not say blowjob ???

        that’s unpossible

        I think she’s goin soft on us ???

        quick, somebody show her a “dick cheney” quote. Let’s see if we can’t pull her back from the forces of politeness evil

  4. allan says:

    For Mr. Krugman to extrapolate that out to being “just like the right-wingers with their endless supply of fake scandals” was startling and beyond the pale.

    It will be sad if Prof. Krugman has been infected with the same disease
    that long ago struck Joe Klein and his ilk.

  5. orionATL says:

    Thank you, bmaz for saying
    What needed to be said, and saying it well.

    And thank you for two other fine columns on legal matters.

    Given the enormous impact judicial decisions have on our rights, our behaviors, and the actions of our
    Political leaders,

    It is extremely important that a lawyer/reporter like you voice opinions that give those of us who don’t understand, let alone speak legalese, a fighting chance
    to understand what the hell is happening in
    Our courts.

    I don’t know another liberal website, other than TalkLeft, that has lawyers explaining legal decisions to
    non-lawyers in the way you do here at emptywheel.

    And with a finely honed sense of humor to boot.

    Thanks.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So-called “Cadillac” plans that the WH and Senate and Mr. Krugman want to tax are simply full-featured insurance plans that cover a wide range of medical, dental and eye care, mental health and other services. In addition, they have low out-of-pocket expenses. With a few exceptions, they are what used to be standard plans in large, unionized business decades ago.

    Taxing full health care coverage plans is the government telling the market that it thinks such plans are an unaffordable luxury. That is, the government doesn’t think people should have that much access to health care, even though most such plans are a result of years or decades of work and comprise in management-labor negotiations.

    A consequence of the tax is that benefits will go down as people and businesses switch to less expensive plans. Wages will not go up, whether in exchange or coincidentally. That lowers government, insurance and employer costs, but leaves employees in the lurch, because they’ll have to pay – if they can – for what’s not covered in the lower cost plans. Executives, on the other hand, and members of Congress, who also have such plans, will keep them, the added cost being passed on to shareholders or the taxpayers. That’s what the Beltway calls fair and balanced.

    Consequences of that are higher insurance company profits – because they remain intentionally poorly and weakly regulated – and relatively lower subsidies demanded from government.

    • selise says:

      So-called “Cadillac” plans that the WH and Senate and Mr. Krugman want to tax are simply full-featured insurance plans that cover a wide range of medical, dental and eye care, mental health and other services. In addition, they have low out-of-pocket expenses. With a few exceptions, they are what used to be standard plans in large, unionized business decades ago.

      Taxing full health care coverage plans is the government telling the market that it thinks such plans are an unaffordable luxury. That is, the government doesn’t think people should have that much access to health care,

      i think you’ve just explained why they wanted to take single payer (as in hr 676) comprehensive universal healthcare off the table. with it there would be no co-pays, no deductibles, no co-insurance. for anyone.

      we’re already paying for it, so it’s not an unaffordable luxury unless you put the parasitic needs of the insurance industry ahead of the healthcare needs of the people.

      • pdaly says:

        i think you’ve just explained why they wanted to take single payer (as in hr 676) comprehensive universal healthcare off the table. with it there would be no co-pays, no deductibles, no co-insurance. for anyone.

        we’re already paying for it, so it’s not an unaffordable luxury unless you put the parasitic needs of the insurance industry ahead of the healthcare needs of the people.

        And if we define the “cost curve” in terms of cost to the individual policy owners, then lowering the cost curve is an easy solution: lower or eliminate copays, deductibles, etc. otherwise it’s just bending the cost curve upwards,

        (Done. Okay, where’s my $400,000?)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Makes you angry or wanna cry that the people Congress and this WH claim to be legislating for have no voice in the legislation. We might well decide what they don’t want to do is eminently affordable and what they’ve already promised to do is akin to pouring a lot of someone else’s money down an executive rat hole. I wonder if that’s by design.

        Meanwhile Congress and CEO’s have no worries about health care or money. It just seems to get paid for and they’d rather we not look too closely into how.

        • selise says:

          furious doesn’t even begin to describe how i’ve felt for over a year now. there has been a massive disinformation campaign and i’m very glad some of the sources are now starting to be challenged.

          • BayStateLibrul says:

            Yes. The disinformation has been a tragedy…

            Can anyone tell me that if this Bill is defeated, that we will revisit

            the problem again.

            My instinct is that we won’t.

            We are a divided nation, the issue is many-layered, the spin will get worse.

            Perhaps, a Commission like the Base Closure and Realignment would take

            the politics out…

            Until then, the only outlet keeping me sane and happy is The Onion and

            the coming 2010 baseball season…

      • Leen says:

        the two years that I have spent in and researching assisted living and nursing homes in the Dayton Ohio region I have had the good fortune to talk with literally hundreds of our seniors in their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and several over one hundred. Not only have I had the pleasure of hearing their personal stories which are often treasure troves of information and wisdom. Whack shit stories too. Have been able to ask lots of questions about their health insurance packages. Over and over again the GM (Dayton thick GM territory)retirees are really satisfied with their health care coverage.

        The big difference I witnessed was those with GM provided coverage were able to access the necessary therapy that they needed to recover for as long as they needed. Without being endlessly scrutinized to see if they were moving forward as fast as the private insurance plans require our seniors to improve to maintain their coverage. Not “Cadillac” plans. Basic needs plans. What a bunch of hooey.

        I have had to call United Health ( Un Secure Horizons) so many times that I have lost count when they have tried to cut my father off. Always think about the folks who do not have anyone to go to bat for them. Have met so many seniors who have been cut off (many WWII Vets, a Catholic nun who had served people in poverty her whole life)

    • skdadl says:

      I’m just watching Marcy’s spot for the first time over coffee — great way to wake up, and Marcy, I think you bring out a certain perkiness in Shuster.

      About these Cadillac plans, as well as the circular and perverse illogic of taxing any basically decent plan, whatever it’s called: does anyone know who first came up with the label as a way to spin the tax? Have people been calling good plans Cadillac for a long time, or is this a recent gambit?

        • skdadl says:

          Ta very much. I guess.

          Sheesh: who decides what these costs are anyway, and according to what logic? I’m not sure they understand the whole notion of insurance in the way that I understand the notion of insurance.

          (I wrote that comment in lieu of just typing “Madness! Madness!”)

          • fatster says:

            What it is varies greatly, doesn’t it? Depending on whatever the speaker is trying to accomplish. Shifty term used by shifty characters for shifty purposes. Objectivity would allow for genuine comparison and maybe even ranking on a scoogish-to-generosity scale. That, apparently, ain’t going to happen.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is an important issue, but a relative sideshow. More important is what kinds of insurance will be available, should the government throw tens of millions of new customers to insurers who remain poorly and weakly regulated.

    What will the government subsidies cost taxpayers and is this money well spent? That is, how much more health care will those subsidies make available? How much health care could have been made available had the government chosen to create alternate ways to insure the cost of health services?

    The difference between those two numbers is the amount of care the government purposely gave away because it was more important to prop up the current bloated and/or corrupt private insurance system rather than regulate it directly or open it to real competition via a public insurer or move directly to a single payer system.

    How much of that extra insurester income will find its way into the Democratic Party coffers, executive bonuses and a bloated administrative process designed to maximize profits by delaying or evading paying for necessary and covered health care? Because that’s what this administration considers more valuable than significantly greater access to health care.

    As we pour through the foibles of establishment advocates and their sometimes questionable figures and conclusions, let’s keep an eye on the health care ball. Health insurance is only one way to get there, a goal Americans want and need, but which the government doesn’t find as important as keeping its corporate supporters and ueber-conservative legislators happy. The government seems to have had that debate with itself already, while the public debate on health care – as opposed to health insurance – hasn’t even begun.

  8. rhfactor says:

    Marcy — the coolest correspondent on TV… Finally breaking out of the text box. btw, nice blow-drying of your hair — no really — it looks good! remember the windblown look at the Libby trial? Actually I preferred that Marcy, but I lost that battle a long time ago.

  9. orionATL says:

    e of [email protected]

    …”while the public debate on health care..,”

    Well, you’re almost right.

    The public debate has ALREADY begun and it was led by wheeler and hamsher at FDL.

    It began with the ew’s reports about gruber,

    given lift
    By
    Paul krugman’s uninformed criticism of wheeler and FDL.

    This is how political firestorms and rebellions start – with small injustices dome to good, determined people who refuse to accept the boot to the neck.

  10. pdaly says:

    Thoughtful analysis.

    I like the fact that Marcy remains calm and nonhysterical while she uses Krugman’s previous column about the excise tax issue to help counter Krugman’s current criticism of her reporting on Gruber.

  11. selise says:

    The foregoing is something that I, bmaz, felt compelled to say; if you disagree, then your beef is with me, not Marcy, not Firedoglake, nor anybody else.

    no beef. well said, i completely agree.

  12. qweryous says:

    Yet another fine post bmaz.

    Misinformation and disinformation, now where has that been seen before?

    Recent goings on such as: the level of interest, the recent interviews (Marcy! on MSNBC!) and other interviews on HCR; some of the discussion on health care reform that would not have happened without FDL , oh and all the trolling of various types (misinformation and disinformation are included as variant forms of trollery).

    These all indicate that people are paying attention to what is being said here.

    The lack of significant argumentation on many of the substantive issues raised here indicates the correctness of the facts, and the correctness of the analysis done here. Many of the views and facts are not popular, even if well backed up by facts and reasoning.

    In some cases it is apparently necessary to do more than ignore the postings here, thus all the diversion and trollery in an attempt to minimize and divert what goes on here.

    It is not easy to win friends by continually pointing out that the emperor wears no clothes; unfortunately the emperors associates have also been having frequent wardrobe malfunctions. It is a good thing that there is a place where these things are pointed out.

  13. bobschacht says:

    bmaz,
    Thanks for this update. I had already read Mishel’s article, and saw Shuster’s interview with Marcy this morning.

    We need to reframe the debate. The “Cadillac” plans are not really Cadillac, which carries the implication of unnecessary extravagance. Instead, we need to refer to, say, a different high-end car line (? such as the Ford Taurus?) that has less of a Luxury image.

    Bob in AZ

    • pdaly says:

      I agree. If we have to maintain the car image, how about “a car with all 4 wheels and a spare packed in the back”?
      i.e., a car that can carry you in normal and emergency situations not a car with only 3 wheels that cannot take you anywhere until you ride in a taxi to the nearest tire company to purchase a 4th tire…

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Agree with the idea that the debate should be ‘reframed’, per:

      We need to reframe the debate. The “Cadillac” plans are not really Cadillac, which carries the implication of unnecessary extravagance. Instead, we need to refer to, say, a different high-end car line (? such as the Ford Taurus?) that has less of a Luxury image.

      However, first Krugman, for whom I have tremendous regard: I happen to agree that he may want to rethink his words and offer an apology to Marcy, who has done yeoman’s work on Plame, torture, finance, and problems with America’s industrial productivity.

      But I would not reframe this debate, I’d say it’s the wrong one.

      How can it be that the CEO of Cigna made over $25,000,000 in 2007? That’s only one single healthCo CEO.

      Did he generate $25,000,000 more ‘wellness’ in the American population? And if so, we should all know how he did it so that it can be repeated!

      Meanwhile, focusing on ‘Cadillac’, or ‘Prius’, or ‘Malibu’, or any other sort of insurance plan still dodges what to me is the fundamental issue: why is our health care so expensive, and how do we bring down the costs?

      Asking who’s going to pay for it is not actually the debate that I think we ought to be having.

      Since that IS the debate we’re having, then at the very least anyone involved in it should realize that after 8 years of Bush-Cheney, after being lied to about WMD, after watching Plame outed and then seeing Libby pardoned, there just isn’t a whole lot of ‘trust’ left to draw upon.

      Anyone wanting to be credible in a post-Bush environment needs to go ‘above and beyond’ the usual norms for transparency and the fact that the Obama administration and Gruber both missed that quite obvious fact is cause for serious consternation.

      • kindGSL says:

        Why is our healthcare so expensive?

        I would say introducing real quality control measures would help a lot, but there is another big, chronic problem that is increasing healthcare costs that is NOT getting enough attention; the use of uranium munitions, nuclear energy policy and burning coal.

        We are actively poisoning our people and planet with our energy/war policies. Yet is it never addressed as a growing concern for healthcare. It should be. Radiation is highly toxic and like many other toxins, actually spreading in our environment. The attitude about it seems to be a combination of deep denial and you deserved it fatalism. I don’t buy that.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Well said ! Krugman should sit with Marcy, then Hugh, Ian & Sterling and share opinions.

        He will defi learn much from them.

        Great post, bmaz !

  14. pdaly says:

    and a car that has all the bolts secured so that the car is guaranteed to hold together if and when you hit a pothole in the road of life.

    Guarantees that if the windshield cracks, that you will be given a replacement without question or charge, because “safety first.”

      • qweryous says:

        It is taxing a Chevy like it is a Cadillac in the hopes that we’ll all go back to walking.

        Can’t pay the excessive tax on the ridiculously priced insurance plan?
        That’s ok, if the moneys all gone, no health care for you.

  15. qweryous says:

    There was another clip posted at FDL earlier today concerning HCR and Dr. Gruber.

    Dr. Gruber appeared on “The News Hour” and made some statements that I find both inconsistent and interesting.

    The clip is found on this post: LINK:
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/01/12/jonathan-gruber-paid-consultant-to-the-obama-administration/

    The statements and apparent discrepancies are discussed in my comment @ 148.

    I made a transcript of the first four minutes of this clip, would consider posting this if there was some purpose to it.

    The other thing that I didn’t put in my comment @148 is that Dr. Gruber has a habit of using health insurance costs and health care costs (along with whether high insurance costs benefit the consumer, employer or insurer)in the wrong place. In this Clip he says wrt to the taxation of the Cadillacs “slightly scale back that existing tax bias by taxing the most expensive plans on the amount they spend above a certain threshold and basically scaling back the giveaway we now have to the most expensive health insurance plans.”

    Another comment at the same thread @133 also relates to the clip, it also discusses some other work Dr. Gruber has published on a different topic that may be of some interest.

    Link to @148:
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/01/12/jonathan-gruber-paid-consultant-to-the-obama-administration/#comment-80522

    Link to @133:
    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/01/12/jonathan-gruber-paid-consultant-to-the-obama-administration/#comment-80451

  16. kisfiu says:

    I agree with others here that Gruber and especially the white house have failed to live up to norms (and expectations that they generated) regarding transparency. That said, this is essentially a scandal of transparency which is surely important – but I would tend to agree with Krugman that this is simply a distraction from the health care debate. Others are free to disagree, but I see no reason to doubt that Gruber’s analysis and opinion are given in good faith.

    As an aside, if it were proved that Gruber was arguing in bad faith, it seems that while this would hopefully have adverse affects on his academic career, it should have absolutely no meaningful impact (or very little) in the health care debate. Lets debate health care on policy grounds.

    • selise says:

      Others are free to disagree, but I see no reason to doubt that Gruber’s analysis and opinion are given in good faith.

      you’ve reminded me that human motivations are usually complicated and very hard to know. even for ourselves. personally, i can’t assume good faith (the earlier reports i read were too transparently bogus), but that doesn’t mean i can conclude bad faith. for example, even if he knew what he was writing was bogus, he may have thought he was doing it for a good cause.

      none of that, in my mind, excuses what he did, but i appreciate the reminder to focus on actions and try to leave aside speculation regarding motivations.

      • klynn says:

        I basically made that point yesterday on Mishel’s post. A “it happen, it’s not professional or correct but it has opened the door to address some concerns on health care policy that we have been trying to get a format to address.”

        Now we have the forum and some good analysis to back our concerns. So let’s pivot and march through some policy-changing actions.

        I trust Marcy will stay on the affordability points. She has been a voice on these concerns for some time.

      • Sparkatus says:

        One reason might be that he failed repeatedly to live up to basic and in some cases explicit contractual obligation to disclose that he was being paid by the Obama administration for analysis of the subject on which he was commenting.

  17. quake says:

    Bmaz,

    You said

    a failure in full disclosure by both Mr. Gruber and the White House, both relying on his work (inferring that it was independent)

    but I think you meant “implying” not “inferring.”

  18. TarheelDem says:

    One semantic nit to pick.

    a failure in full disclosure by both Mr. Gruber and the White House, both relying on his work (inferring that it was independent)

    The White House failure was not in inferring that Gruber’s work was independent.

    The failure was either in implying that the work was independent or not providing enough information, allowing others to infer that the work was independent. My sense is that because it was a failure to disclose, that it is the latter.

  19. klynn says:

    Just a note,
    A member of my family received HHS grants for research for 35+ years and also sat on grant peer review committees for HHS. This family member agrees with EW, that disclosure should have happened. The family member cannot address the “intentions” behind the failure, only the failure of the professional obligation to disclose.

    The family member also stated that it is not appropriate or professional for other researchers to “circle the wagons” in an effort to reduce the embarrassment of the failure to disclose. Although he understands that peers are trying to communicate to the public, “…yes he failed but he is still a good guy.”

    A final comment from this family member is the fact that we now live in a culture which seems to reward conflict of interest instead of addressing and reinforcing the foundation of ethical failure within conflict of interest. Winning the power play of conflict of interest in order to leverage gains in an unethical manner seems to have become a societal standard. This ethical failure as a society seems to hit harder when it happens in a context we assume it will not happen within such as a higher ed institution or with an individual within such context.

    What becomes difficult is the ethical line becomes blurred. Was it done out of motive or was it years of institutionalized or systemic failure to recognize the circumstances of conflict of interest?

    Either way, this has been quite a learning experience for all parties to reinforce transparency, avoid conflict of interest and the failure has successfully opened the door to discuss how the health care policy can help the poor as well as be affordable for the middle class. Obviously, as a nation, we do not want to: drastically increase the % of poor within our country, reduce the economic security of the middle class, increase the costs to our nation due to poor or no health care for millions and, create a threat to our national security by doing so.

    The family member also pointed out that it is good for Dems and progressives that this happened on the left side of the isle and promotes a sense of internal accountability on the left within the left, which is totally missing on the right.

    • selise says:

      …we now live in a culture which seems to reward conflict of interest instead of addressing and reinforcing the foundation of ethical failure within conflict of interest. Winning the power play of conflict of interest in order to leverage gains in an unethical manner seems to have become a societal standard.

      i’ve noticed something similar (actually have a couple of horror stories). not exactly the same, but related to what you’ve described. (aside: there have been times i’ve found it very difficult to know what to do — where every action or inaction i can think of seems problematic.)

      maybe it’s my imagination, or maybe it’s just that experience is forcing me to give up prior illusions, but it seems to me that there are similar changes almost everywhere i look. for example, we now live in a culture which seems to accept the use of torture, even on innocents. but, like the ethical issues you’ve raised, i don’t think it’s that simple or settled because there is also, thank goodness, active disagreement.

    • bmaz says:

      Of course he will support Johnsen; he was always going to the second any pressure was placed on him; that is exactly what I argued all along. All the WH ever had to do was tell Specter that “if you want our help in your very tough reelection campaign, you will vote to allow cloture”. The thought that Specter would refuse this was always idiotic. n nI would further add that if you read closely the source Spencer relies on, Brian Beutler at TPM, you will see that it appears Specter may actually have come to this conclusion some time back as he said after the committee hearing. The committee hearing was last March; and the rest of Specter’s statement is phrased to indicate there has been at least some time involved too. Furthermore, both Maine Senators, Collins and Snowe, have NEVER said they would refuse to allow cloture, and in fact several high powered women’s groups were lobbying them aggressively and, by my understanding, threatening to score them on the vote. All the White House and Harry Reid ever had to do to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed was call the damn vote. They refused to do so. So while it is just dandy that they have restarted the entire process once again, the real question is STILL why did they intentionally scuttle the confirmation for 6 months and finally allow it to be killed the last time? If you are not asking that question, you are not being honest about what occurred.

      • JohnLopresti says:

        A helpful view, of the usual Specter endgame. I lost track of the professor’s nomination, as not covered much in local MSM where I reside. Seems Bushco similarly proceeded with unvoted serial renominees; I wonder if some remain even now(?). Sad to see the instutitional pressure upon DoJ. Look forward to next diaries on Dawn Johnsen’s nomination. I gotta do some research. Civil div in better shape now too. I worry about the electoral process approaching later this summer ff.

  20. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    A thoughtful and informative comment.

    It’s always nice when those who really know the ropes of a profession candidly inform those of us who do not.

    Helps us fight self-serving professional b.s.

    Thanks.

    • klynn says:

      Thanks. This family member was also an international and national expert in his field with a proprietary assessment model.

      He wonders how much dedication to the cause of health care reform may have played into the lapse of professional behavior on the part of Gruber. Agrees that the White House could have made sure, through proper testimony introductions to committees, to “keep it clean.” He thinks in some ways, with the exception of the op-ed, that Gruber may have been in the vacuum of, “Everyone in the room knows I do this research through HHS grants,” assumption.

      Again, does not make it less of an infraction. But may serve to direct our future actions on our policy efforts.

  21. orionATL says:

    When we talk about the motives of the white house in making hidden deals with health care industry components,

    It is important to keep in mind that one motive the whit house had was the feeling that Obama Corp could not fight and win a p.r. Battle with billy tauzin and the drug
    Boys or the insurance boys.

    Another motive was said to be a desire to retain health industry support for the 2012 campaign.

    I don’t know the accuracy of these comments I’m passing along.

    What I do know is that I am deeply disappointed Obama did not choose to fight the health industry before negotiations started.

  22. Leen says:

    ot
    Goldman Sach’s Blankfein, Brian Moynihan CEO Bank of America, testifying in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

    Blankfein just tried to describe the economic crisis as a “hurricane” in fact several “hurricanes” The Chair of the committee responded hurricanes are an “act of God” the economic crisis is an “act of men and women.”
    http://www.c-span.org/Watch/C-SPAN2.aspx

    lots of questions being directed to Goldmans Blankfein

      • Leen says:

        It is fucking astounding that they have some of the thieves telling them how to move forward about how to fix the economic system.

        These tax payer fuckers make billions when it works and when it breaks. They don’t care. They have been successful privatizing the profits and socializing their losses. And then on Washington Journal this morning they had the taxpayers calling in on whether these fat cats should have to say we’re “sorry”

        Can you imagine having a guy who robbed a corner drug store telling the judge how the fact that he had a bad family home, no access to a good education, no access to a living wage, no health care, as the reasons that he ripped off the corner drug store and how the Judge or society could make it better for those with lass access. Most judges do not give a flyig fuck about what Lloyd Blankfein called the “context of the world we were in” The gavel comess down on the guy who robbed the drugstore…he does time in prison.

        These fat cats not only walk with billions they are now asked to be on a panel telling our congress how to fix the fixed economic system. March the parasitical banking thieves off to prison like the corner drug store theif.

        • fatster says:

          They can’t let “the little guy” (particularly one that fits one of their scary “profiles”) get away with much at all. Else, lots of little guys might start thinking about their lot, what the causes are and what they can collectively do about it. And, of course, they simply must protect all those well-tanned, -heeled, -coiffed, -clothed, -paid captains of corporations and related cronies, and they do protect them because they identify with them.

          (Pardon my outburst.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If he was hit by a hurricane – and that’s his excuse for the systemic meltdown his firm directly caused and profited handsomely from – he’s the source of the hot air that mixed with the cold economic winds blowing across the rest of America that that New Yorker map of America leaves out. What a putz.

      • Leen says:

        I put this up a while back. That is unless Bmaz does not care if we make comments about the hearing here

        http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/23757

        Blankfein trying to spin a man made economic crisis as an “act of god” What a spin master. He just referred to the “post Lehman” economic environment. Then he kept referring to the “standard of the times” and the “context of the world we were in” spin all the way to the treasury $$$

    • bobschacht says:

      Brooksley Born, the heroine of the Frontline special, is up now questioning the panel of bank CEOs about the role of credit default swaps in the crisis.

  23. ezdidit says:

    The larger scandal lingers, and it is this:

    What did President Obama know about this malfeasance and misrepresentation by omission, and when did he know it?

    Did Rahm keep him in the dark?

    ps Italics & bold work, but underlining does not work. Apostrophe’s <— get these weird forward slashes. Is it just me?

  24. tejanarusa says:

    Alert! Anybody still reading this – Gruber is on the Diane Rehm Show right now, making what I consider dishonest arguments on erroneous assumptions. Also citing the number of “experts” who agree with him, rather than his own research.

  25. nextstopchicago says:

    I know you guys have a lot on your plate, but I’d be interested in a discussion of the UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan at some point:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/world/asia/14kabul.html?hp

    If you can take it at face value, tighter rules on airstrikes drastically reduced the number of civilian casualties caused by American coalition forces in 2009. But what can you take at face value these days.

    • bmaz says:

      Hey NextStop – That does sound kind of interesting, and my knee jerk is about like yours – who do you trust anymore on body counts – although I tend to give a tad more credibility to the UN than the obligatory US “30 insurgents were killed” baloney. I don’t know if we will get a chance to go much deeper, not that it is not worthy of discussion, but we are all over the place for the immediate future.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        For example, in the early days of the invasion of Iraq, the acceptable level was 30 innocent people — women, children, the old, the sick, and all other non-combatants.

        Any mission that was likely to kill more than 30 innocent people had to be signed off personally by Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld. As far as can be determined, few — if any — such missions were ever cancelled by Rumsfeld. Missions which fell below that threshold — that is, missions in which more than two dozen innocent people were likely to be killed — were left up to the discretion of commanders in the field.

        “Blackwater Fever:High Crimes and Hired Guns”,1/08/10 Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

  26. ThingsComeUndone says:

    For Mr. Krugman to extrapolate that out to being “just like the right-wingers with their endless supply of fake scandals” was startling and beyond the pale. There was also no foundation for it from Marcy’s words and statements on this blog.

    The foregoing is something that I, bmaz, felt compelled to say; if you disagree, then your beef is with me, not Marcy, not Firedoglake, nor anybody else

    Paul by name calling and trying to link us to unpopular Right Wingers is using a Classic Authoritarian/McCarthyism text book defense I’m surprised Paul didn’t call Marcy a Commie. Also Bmaz if Paul Disagrees and we Commenters agree then we have your back from Snark, to reasoned arguments, to links and research we back our own.:)

  27. ezdidit says:

    The term “creative destruction” is a non sequitur. Often, it sets a goal of liquidation by any means necessary of productive ongoing closely-held public corporations, whose escrow accounts, i.e., accounts that must hold items like billions and billions of dollars of customer deposits and uncashed cheques held as debt, for the sole purpose of invading these accounts. This benefits only holders of preferred and restricted shares – i.e., insiders gain.

    All I’m saying is that Wall Street foments instability, and the consequences for society are profound & diffuse. As unstable shocks are absorbed by society for the benefit of a few, Wall Street seeks to corrupt society with as much instability as it can.

    This is incentivized perversity.

    The roots of current moral outrage – taxing “Cadillac plans that are really mere Chevys” – can be found in the amoral reality wherein enhancing shareholder value comes at the direct expense of true creativity and any value at all for society as a whole.

    There is more to come: Scott Roeder and murderers who can argue that their acts work for the greater good, such as protecting unborn fetuses, are the latest judicial bugaboo. That the current scotus would allow it is sheer cowardice. It is, like Wall Street, merely amoral.

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    OT, kind of — but I just saw what is, IMVHO, a hat-tip of the highest order: Financial Times is live-blogging the Financial Crisis Inquiry Hearings today.

    The link is on the front page of the Financial Times, for anyone who might be interested (whether the link is only on the US online edition, or more globally on FT pages, I don’t know). But the rise of live-blogging is, in my view, a tribute to the focus on enhancing the quality of information that has been a driving force of FDL/EW and related blogs these past few years.

    Take a bow, server squirrels, Jane, EW, CHS, and all those who have put so much wit, snark, insistence on integrity, and insistence on factual, well-sourced, fully documented information here at FDL.

  29. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Cool the Lake is inventing? New Journalism techniques pretty soon we might even set the standards for political journalism our standards are higher and much more entertaining than the slop on tv. KO and Rachel excluded of course.

  30. politicalcircusblogdotcom says:

    David Shuster and honest reporting, now there’s something special! Why do we need a huge Gov. Union driven workforce to oversee the private lives Americans lead during health care issues? Let people choose their own health care plans (across State lines), and if they can’t afford health care then, mandate emergency rooms to accept those without and those with preexisting on a need basis. Funding would come from Congress, the same way they fund Wars, Bailouts, and Stimulus packages.
    Why does the Government need to take over one sixth of our economy when there are simple solutions out there.
    And while they are at it…Freddie and Fannie, should reduce every loan, including credit cards, home, commercial, industrial, business etc to a to a flat 4% for the duration of that loan. In the event the property is sold, the new buyer should be entitled to assume that 4% loan for the balance of the term. Neg Ams would be erased and foreclosures would be cut by 90%.

  31. Gitcheegumee says:

    Here are Mishel’s OWN words,in a post(#18) over at the Seminal thread “Employer Health Costs Do Not Drive Wage Trends”:

    Excerpt:

    I think his error in the case I’m criticizing is that he’s a health care economist and doesn’t know the details about wage trends. I, on the other hand, have been studying wages for thirty years or more. Gruber clearly over-reached with the argument about health care driving wage trends and has acknowledged that to me privately (yesterday).

    Larry Mishel

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think progressive critics would do well to focus on this president’s math. As I said @9,

    [W]hat kinds of insurance will be available, should the government throw tens of millions of new customers to insurers who remain poorly and weakly regulated.

    What will the government subsidies cost taxpayers and is this money well spent? That is, how much more health care will those subsidies make available? How much health care could have been made available had the government chosen to create alternate ways to insure the cost of health services?

    The difference between those two numbers is the amount of care the government purposely gave away because it was more important to prop up the current bloated and/or corrupt private insurance system….

    The amount of health care left unprovided is the human sacrifice this president and Congress are willing to pay for the corporate – not the public – good.

  33. Leen says:

    One of the commissioners asked Blankfein “what would have happened if AIG would have been allowed to fail?

    Most of the questions are going to Blankfein

  34. Gitcheegumee says:

    @78

    Oh, the the investment scenarios had been assessed in October 2009 by Goldman Sachs, made public in November 2009-right around the time of the Brownstein article ,of which Rahm Emmanuel alluded to as imperative homework.

    Goldman Sachs on Health Care Reform | ePluribus MediaNov 13, 2009 … Goldman Sachs views health care, not from the perspective of an individual seeking care, but from the point of view of a prospector …

    discuss.epluribusmedia.net/content/goldman-sachs-health-care-reform – Cached

    Goldman Sachs Tells How to Cash in on Health Care Reform | Mother …Goldman Sachs Tells How to Cash in on Health Care Reform. — By James Ridgeway. | Fri Nov. 13, 2009 1:01 PM PST. First we bailed out the teetering Wall …

    motherjones.com/…/goldman-sachs-tells-how-cash-health-care-reform – Cached

  35. dick c says:

    Has anyone seen a comparison of plans offered in other countries with the “Cadillac plans?” Are there countries where everyone gets something comparable to a Cadillac for much much less than we pay for a Chevy?

      • dick c says:

        What comes to mind using auto analogies is that the health insurance and drug companies should be getting treatment similar to that gotten by GM.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That would include every country in the EU, for starters.

      With few exceptions, what John Kerry calls a “Cadillac” – and he should know what they look like – is really plain vanilla, no sugar, custard in a cup. It may have a few raisins. Today’s “standard” plans are white bread, no butter. “Low cost” plans with high deductibles are Saltines, without the salt or the crunch.

      “Cadillac” insurance plans assume that if the insured has an ailment severe enough to require consultation with or treatment from a doctor, dentist, optometrist or mental health professional, they should get it and the plan should pay its agreed amount for the service. The logic being that sick, toothless, blind and depressed workers are not very productive.

      These plans are dinosaurs in that they are not built around routine serial denials of admittedly covered procedures. They are not plans with as many unsuspected potholes as W. Grand Blvd in Detroit. They are old-style plans. The insurer’s role is limited to administering payments the employer has agreed it will make on behalf of the employees, which they agreed to make because they are contingent, and less costly than cash today.

      That’s what Mr. Kerry, this president and this Senate would tell you is an “unaffordable luxury”. You know, the kind of care they have for life.

  36. Jeff Kaye says:

    Krugman’s article, while sickening, was not surprising. If you are going to challenge the status quo & establishment way of doing things, and if they can’t safely ignore you, then you can expect the shitstorm. Simply gaze down a few stories on the EW main page and contemplate the fate of Dan Rather — and he was a made man in corporate media circles.

    These are mean people, the grown-up equivalent of school-yard bullies. Marcy & bmaz have been firm but gracious to Krugman’s bulldog attack. It’s the correct response, but this will not be the end of the matter. The privileged will fight tooth and nail to maintain their perks, and when challenged, they emit invective the way a skunk squirts its odiferous solution.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Krugman should call Marcy and have a lengthy chat with her, before writing any more about this.

      At least he would, if he wants to save his dignity. We need him to be more aligned with facts and values that support the greater good, not get caught up in numbers and statistics.

      • ondelette says:

        We need him to be more aligned with facts and values that support the greater good, not get caught up in numbers and statistics.

        Really? You would like to prescribe which “facts” he “aligns” himself with, and which “numbers and statistics” he ignores? I had always heard that it was liberals who were better at ambiguity and dissonance. Your statement speaks worlds about an authoritarian undercurrent supporting conformity.

        For your information, specialists can disagree, and can believe that each other exaggerate or over emphasize one facet of a problem over another without either party in the debate being dishonest. Krugman is criticizing the attempt to paint Jonathan Gruber as dishonest, not any disagreement with Gruber over the arguments. That attempt really did happen, it is still happening, and there is great pride in it here. I don’t think under the circumstances it is appropriate to demand that Paul Krugman come begging apology.

        And it is most certainly not appropriate, ever, to demand that he limit the facts he uses to those which have the right “values”.

        • hotdog says:

          I think you misinterpreted the sentence. He needs to be more in line with facts (as opposed to extrapolated highly suspect models). AND he needs to be aligned with values that support the greater good (as opposed to worrying about a stain on his profession and academia in general).

          Got it?

          • hotdog says:

            A little advice to Master Krugman FWIW. First try to wash out the stain. If you can’t wash it out, get another sweater or live with the imperfection. Covering it up only makes you look effete.

        • bmaz says:

          No you are right; sure would be nice if he was a hell of a lot more careful about the way he recklessly bandies about unfair and unsupportable allegations against Marcy, as well as a little more forthcoming on the limitations of Gruber’s modeling and assumptions, not to mention Gruber’s failure to be forthright in his disclosures of potential/apparent conflicts. But hey, you are probably here for another round of dumping on us and unjustifiable sucking up and bucking up of the academic elite in the face of unequivocal circumstances, so I guess you probably don’t want to hear that.

          • ondelette says:

            But hey, you are probably here for another round of dumping on us and unjustifiable sucking up and bucking up of the academic elite in the face of unequivocal circumstances, so I guess you probably don’t want to hear that.

            Yeah, that’s exactly why I made the comment. How perceptive.

  37. nextstopchicago says:

    TCU,

    I didn’t even know there were diaries here. For one, I mostly read EW, though I am aware of and occasionally browse the broader FDL site. I’m an old timer – got here after reading EW on thenexthurrah, rather than by noticing FDL and then zeroing in on this part of the site. I like the others, but never made them part of my routine.

    I’m prolly not going to diary the UN study on civilian casualties, because I don’t know enough context to write it up. But if I decided to, where would I even go to open a diary-writing window? I don’t see a link.

    And BMaz, I certainly understand that you’ve all got other things to write about. No doubt there’ll be other entries to the topic in coming weeks.

    /threadjack

  38. nextstopchicago says:

    Nevermind. I found the “write a diary” button on the main FDL page, and the listing of diaries there.

  39. captjjyossarian says:

    Are these plans really Cadillac’s? Or are they merely cars that actually have all 4 wheels? There’s more than a few “non-Cadillac” plans out there that are missing a wheel or two.

    Personally I hate to add more special itemized tax rules covering “this, that but not the other thing”. If we need more revenues then we should be talking about a VAT.

  40. msmolly says:

    Just went over to Krugman’s blog and read all of the comments. They are overwhelmingly in defense of Marcy and FDL (I saw a few familiar names, but the comments aren’t all from Firepups). I wonder if Paul will actually apologize, or write a follow-up to his very unfair characterization. I hope so.

    • klynn says:

      Thanks for the heads up. I just went over and read the comments. I agree with you. And a number of professionals have responded.

      Many seem to indicate a need for a little “cheese with the whine.”

      • klynn says:

        Many seem to indicate a need for a little “cheese with the whine.”

        In regards to Krugman’s post, that is.

  41. bmaz says:

    Note the UPDATE I have added to the main post:

    UPDATE: Economist Larry Mishel, who was linked to in the main post and referred to with seeming approval by Paul Krugman as well (link to that also in main post) put the following in a comment to his FDL Seminal Post yesterday:

    I do think Gruber’s claim about the wage impact of lower health care inflation in the 1990s (and the reverse trends in the 200s) was wrong: The simple tale seemed to support his policy desire to curtail health care costs via the excise tax but digging into the details shows that health care costs have not driven wage trends. This does not mean that lower health care costs might not lead to better wages, just that the scale of the impact won’t move wages appreciably.

    I may differ with many of you on the site though in that I don’t impugn Gruber’s motives. I don’t think there’s much of a scandal regarding his contract with HHS. I think his error in the case I’m criticizing is that he’s a health care economist and doesn’t know the details about wage trends. I, on the other hand, have been studying wages for thirty years or more. Gruber clearly over-reached with the argument about health care driving wage trends and has acknowledged that to me privately (yesterday).

    So, I think he’s wrong on this issue and I also disagree with him on the overall merits of the health excise tax. But I think he’s a pretty smart, reasonable and straightforward economist. I’ve had to debate some pretty scummy economists and he’s not one of them. (emphasis added)

    I agree with Mr. Mishel about the absence of malice by Mr. Gruber. But malice was never ascribed by Marcy Wheeler, she merely pointed out that there was a simple failure to fully disclose potential conflict information, that others had an interest in knowing, and that the assumptions Mr. Gruber’s model was based on may not be correct. These points have been borne out by others, indeed effectively by Paul Krugman himself and other experts he relies on. The tarring that occurred from Paul should be retracted.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I agree with Mr. Mishel about the absence of malice by Mr. Gruber. But malice was never ascribed by Marcy Wheeler, she merely pointed out that there was a simple failure to fully disclose potential conflict information, that others had an interest in knowing, and that the assumptions Mr. Gruber’s model was based on may not be correct. These points have been borne out by others, indeed effectively by Paul Krugman himself and other experts he relies on. The tarring that occurred from Paul should be retracted.

      Thanks, bmaz.
      I think this gets to the heart of one of the issues here.

      We live in a world that’s been twisted by Rovian dynamics for a long time now; we’ve recently seen Mary Matalin claim that ‘there was no terrorist incident on Bush’s watch’, we’ve seen a senior US Senator (Charles Grassley, R-Iowa) yelping preposterously about ‘death panels’ and scaring seniors out of their wits, we’ve had lies, smears, and insults from one end of the media spectrum to the other for years now.

      I don’t think people who are unfamiliar with Marcy’s work realize how phenomenally **analytical** she is, and I also think that much of the media environment has become toxic. Therefore, the idea that Marcy could be questioning **the analysis**, or where **the analysis came from** and asking legitimately why certain HHS contracts or grants were not fully disclosed is automatically interpreted as an assumption that she thinks Gruber is being ‘malicious’.

      I thought Mishel’s comment was splendid; due respect for professional skills was conveyed, but also a questioning of the analytical framework of Gruber’s results.

      That’s the way things are **supposed to work.**
      I can understand some overreaction to Marcy’s work (on the grounds that Krugman, like the rest of us, has been living in a nation poisoned by the sneering, nasty dispositions of Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, etc, who give anyone who tries to have a public conversation a bad stench).

      In addition, given the passion of FDL that Dems stand on principle and stop the usual K Street driven, financially based habits of DC that got us all into this mess in the first place, there may be an — INCORRECT — assumption that Marcy only does ‘gotcha’.
      I’ve been reading her over 3 years now, almost daily, and in large part because she doesn’t sink to ‘gotcha’; indeed, she is stellar at pointing out relationships and analyzing documentary evidence.

      Clearly, Krugman and others assumed that Marcy was being malicious.
      Here’s hoping this thread, and the point you raise, will offer a chance to clear the air.

      I think your point may help restore a bit of sanity — questioning the funding of a study is not an unusual thing to do, and here’s hoping that a whole lot of people take it as a lesson and build some new ‘transparency frameworks’ going forward.

  42. todayslies says:

    Or maybe Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman actually knows what he’s talking about, and so-and-so doesn’t.

    • bmaz says:

      May well be, and that would be a valid and helpful discussion now wouldn’t it? What is not valid is for Mr. Krugman, Nobel Laureate and all, to have taken after Marcy Wheeler as he did when she was not the one committing the acts he seems to have been complaining of.

  43. ondelette says:

    bmaz, this is slightly OT, but I put this analysis of the documentation that Jane Hamsher linked to up on her thread.

    http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/01/13/gruber/#comment-80785

    If I’m reading through it correctly, Jonathan Gruber directly advised the Obama administration before February of 2009, in other words, as an expert and not for contract pay (recall that at that point, the administration was either in transition, or in its first couple of weeks in office).

    Then he got the sole source contracting work, not for the Obama administration (which would have been the White House Office of Health Reform), but with HHS/ASPE, which does planning and evaluation on health and science within HHS. Among the reasons given for the sole source was that having been in on policy discussions for the White House’s planned health care initiatives, he was familiar with them and would be able to provide modeling and figures expediently.

    That’s quite a different timeline and flow than has been proposed at FDL. He wasn’t given a contract to advise the Obama administration, he was given a contract to evaluate the economics of the proposals because he was familiar with them because he had previously advised the Obama administration, at least given the documentation Jane pointed to.

    • bmaz says:

      And you think that exonerates Gruber in some fashion?? You have to be kidding. If so, that would make his lack of fundamental disclosure even more dishonest; not to mention the lack of candor, disclosure and conduct of the Obama Administration. Keep digging though; you are not half way to China.