Jonathan Gruber "Drama"

11 Jan

I’ve cited the work, ideas, and opinions of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber on the blog. So have a lot of other folks like Ezra Klein, Merrill Goozner, and Jonathan Cohn. And why not? Gruber’s a sharp guy and he has made some really strong arguments in support of health reform. However, now that it’s been made public knowledge that Gruber has a $300,000 contract to work for the Obama administration, many people–especially health reform opponents–are up in arms.

While I don’t think it’s surprising that an academic is receiving government funding–heck, the federal government is funding my pre-doctoral fellowship as I write–Gruber probably should’ve been a little more upfront about things. It’s not that the contract has influenced what he’s been saying, it’s that any time there’s the perception of a conflict of interest, that’s sufficient for being called into question.

Klein and Cohn vow to mention Gruber’s contract status in all future references to the man. I don’t. This is my acknowledgment that Gruber is an academic who is partially funded by the federal government. It’s also my acknowledgment that I am an academic who is partially funded by the federal government. Believe me when I say that they aren’t paying me nearly enough to change my personal opinion on anything.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


One response to “Jonathan Gruber "Drama"

  1. Dave

    January 13, 2010 at 12:42 am

    The thing is that it's not like some random academic grant like what you have, but rather Gruber got invited to the WH the very same day he inked his $95K contract to be there the very next day. So on 3/25 he got his contract and then on 3/26 he met with Orzag for almost 2 hours. Orzag and others in the WH subsequently touted Gruber as being an independent verification, when in fact he was on their payroll…and Gruber with his six figure paycheck on the line let everyone believe that he was an independent source. This is not at all like a random epidemiologist or grad student getting government funding. Gruber is a politico, having worked high up in the Clinton Admin's Treasury rather than a pure unsullied academic.


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