Jonathan Gruber's Economics
By David Henderson
“Why, Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks, he is lying; and I see not what honour he can propose to himself from having the character of a lyar. But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.”
—Dr. Sam Johnson
Tyler Cowen, co-bloggers Scott Sumner and Bryan Caplan, and David Friedman have all weighed in on Jonathan Gruber’s morality or lack of same. I have little to add to that discussion beyond the fact that I agree with Bryan and David.
Here’s Gruber, although I’m guessing that the vast majority of you have already watched it.
But I do want to take up Tyler Cowen’s challenge that we focus on Jonathan Gruber’s economics. That is what I have always done in discussing Gruber in “Jonathan Gruber and Me,” “Jonathan Gruber’s Analysis of ‘Obamacare'”, and “Last Night’s Debate on Health Care.”
His recent admission, though, confirms a suspicion I’ve had about his honesty. How could someone whom the government paid almost $400,000 to estimate the effects of Obamacare not take account of the fact that the ban on charging for pre-existing conditions would affect insurance rates? It seems clear now. He did understand that that ban would drive insurance rates up, as he admitted later. He just didn’t want to admit it before the bill passed.
How could an economist, who’s on the faculty of MIT, no less, change his mind about whether Obamacare would “bend the cost curve?” One obvious answer is that he got new information. That would be the charitable interpretation that one would give if one trusted him. But a far more likely answer is that he didn’t change his mind and that when he first claimed cost savings, he, put simply, lied.