I didn’t pay much attention to the news that broke recently that an adviser to the ACA (Obamacare, Romneycare) and Vermont’s planned “single-payer” program has found himself in a kerfuffle fueled by rightwing opponents of the healthcare act. Jonathon Gruber, the MIT economist and healthcare expert, apparently planted both his feet in his mouth, possibly even more than once. Nationally a video captured him making some very ill-advised remarks about Obamacare.
And it was stupid too, according to former Obama aide David Axelrod, who tweeted:
if you looked up "stupid" in dictionary, you'd find Gruber's picture.
However, some of what Gruber said that has inflamed critics in the video about CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scoring may actually be mistaken.
[Gruber] was incorrect about the CBO’s treatment of the individual mandate. Whether you called the fine for not carrying insurance a “tax” or a “penalty,” it got scored the same way, as generating revenue.
But I don’t intend to go into the deep weeds surrounding that part of the Gruber kerfuffle. And since he has a lucrative contract with the state of Vermont running through February 2015, there is a local angle to the kerfuffle.
The Campaign for Vermont has taken the opportunity Gruber handed them to pile on and fundraise locally on the national anti-healthcare/Gruber frenzy. This shouldn’t be surprising, as delaying Vermont’s healthcare was one of Campaign for Vermont’s founder Bruce Lisman’s first public positions. While he has bankrolled the Cfor VT from the start, he recently stepped aside from policy leadership, although he may still be hold some influence.
In one of his early policy talks in 2011, Lisman suggested that Vermont could not afford health care (or renewable energy programs) and recommended that it should be delayed indefinitely. Back then he cited uncertainty (the businessman’s favorite phantasm) over Irene recovery costs as the reason for the delay.
So now the Campaign for Vermont carries on his anti-healthcare cause with an online petition (donation button included) calling for Gruber’s contract with Vermont to be revoked.
A second Gruber-in-Vermont story, that was in the news in 2011, was simply an attempt to be funny. His remark, although “flip” for official testimony, does have a little humor to it and maybe a bit of insight too.
In the 2011 video of testimony before a Vermont legislative hearing on the new Vermont healthcare law, Gruber is questioned by the committee Chairman. The Rep. reads a lengthy constituent comment expressing:
a Vermonter’s concerns about the law— “ballooning costs, increased taxes, bureaucratic outrages, shabby facilities, disgruntled providers, long waiting times, lower-quality care, special interest nest-feathering and destructive wages and price controls” — Gruber joked: “Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?
The remark was met with uproarious laughter in the committee room.
The question was not written by an ordinary adolescent but was submitted by John McClaughry, Ethan Allen Institute founder, a former Vermont state senator and long-ago adviser to President Ronald Reagan.
No demands or petitions calling for Jonathon Gruber to apologize to adolescents for comparing them to John McClaughry have been made.
Well, at least not yet – let’s wait for the latest anti-healthcare storyline to run its course.