Obamacare

The White House's Media Feedback Loop

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When it was revealed last week that MIT economist and ObamaCare booster Jonathan Gruber had taken almost $400,000 from the Obama administration's Health and Human Services department to do consulting work on health care reform, I noted that Gruber had failed to disclose his funding to numerous reporters when serving as an impartial health care analyst. But as liberal health care scourge Jane Hamsher notes in an exhaustively researched article at Huffington Post today, an even bigger problem is that prominent government officials — including some who almost certainly knew of of Gruber's funding — cited his research as independent analysis, when, in fact, it was lavishly funded by the administration.

Sometimes it was done directly, such as when Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag, a health care budgeting expert who met with Gruber the day after his HHS contract was finalized, cited Gruber's analysis in a blog post responding to David Brooks. But more often, it was done through what Hamsher calls a "feedback loop," in which Gruber releases an analysis, prominent members of the political media cite his analysis, and then the White House points to those reports to back up their claims about health care reform — a process which, as Hamsher documents, happened repeatedly, and without any disclosure of Gruber's administration backing.

Here's Hamsher:

Gruber began negotiating a sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services in February of 2009, for which he was ultimately paid $392,600. The contract called for Gruber to use his statistical model for evaluating alternatives "derived from the President's health reform proposal." It was not a research grant, but rather a consulting contract to advise the White House Office of Health Reform, headed by Obama's health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle, to "develop proposals" for health care reform.

How did the feedback loop work? Well, take Gruber's appearance before the Senate HELP Committee on November 2, 2009, for which he used his microsimulation model to make calculations about small business insurance coverage for his testimony. On the same day, Gruber released an analysis of the House health care bill, which he sent to Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. Ezra published an excerpt.

White House blogger Jesse Lee then promoted both Gruber's Senate testimony and Ezra Klein's article on the White House blog. "We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day" he said, pointing to Gruber's "objective analysis." The "transparent" part apparently stopped when everyone got to Gruber's contractual relationship to the White House, which nobody in the three-hit triangle bothered to disclose.

Lots, lots more from Hamsher here.

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  1. What the hell is the world coming to when I am starting to kind of like Jane Hamsher?

    1. Relax, it just means that as you get older your DF list of females becomes more lax and your level of weltanschauung-intolerance allows you a dabble with a few hippie chicks.

      Perfectly normal.

    2. Yeah, good for her. One of the things I dislike most about partisans and ideologues is the regular use of double standards, e.g. sexual harassment is a horrible and unforgivable crime until Bill Clinton gets caught doing it. The fact that she’ll go after someone on her team shows some real principles.

  2. But as liberal health care scourge Jane Hamsher notes in an exhaustively researched article at Huffington Post today, an even bigger problem is that prominent government officials ? including some who almost certainly knew of of Gruber’s funding ? cited his research as independent analysis, when, in fact, it was lavishly funded by the administration.

    Makes you wonder about another lavishly-funded source of flim-flam: The CRU.

  3. I’d like to be a regular commenter on the White House blog.

  4. What a shock. Ezra Klein didn’t disclose the conflict. The only thing that surprises me is that sockpuppeter extraordinaire Glenn Greenwald wasn’t involved.

    1. Klein is too stupid for things like disclosing potential conflicts of interest to cross his mind. He’s a yes-we-can! butt buddy.

    2. The difference between Ezra Klein and a piece of shit is that a piece of shit is smarter.

  5. Right now, according to new research, more than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age could find themselves without wives in 2020. They are screwed, (figuratively, anyway) and sex-specific abortions are being blamed. The study, which underlines what we`ve known all along, said the nation’s “family-planning policy” has led to rural parents aborting females ? because they prefer boys for their greater earning potential, and as caregivers for parents when they get wrinkly. And that`s led to a male-female ratio as high as 130 males for every 100 females, making it not quite as bad as West Hollywood.

    So what does this mean?

    Well, forget that the most championed women`s right ends up eliminating women ? I`m more interested in the outcry from places like NOW.

    http://bighollywood.breitbart……ore-292894

    1. So what does this mean?

      It means the bride price will go up and as such the Chinese will start producing more females (because now they fetch the payola). In the meantime Chinese men will seek brides from foreign places that may or may not be Chinese.

      No crisis. Just markets in action. Even China will have trouble thwarting this one.

      As for NOW? Please, they only care about white babies.

    2. “forget that the most championed women`s right ends up eliminating women”

      Yeah because thinking women should have the right to choose an abortion=supporting forced abortions!

      1. MNG,

        Chinese women think. They have the cards stacked against them but they think.

        That was exhibit A bigot bullshit. Congrats.

            1. Reading comprehension clue: Replace “thinking” with “to think”.

      2. Re: MNG,

        The Chinese are not being forced to have abortions, only to have one child for free (any extra child costs the parents heavily in extra taxes and fees.)

        In India, women also choose to abort girls more often than boys, and those abortions are also voluntary. Your point is moot.

        1. Forced abortions occur in China:
          http://www.time.com/time/world…..36,00.html

          And I tell you what’s “moot”, pointing to a policy restricting women’s reproductive choices in an attempt to discredit a group whose raison d’etre is to lobby for women to have such choices.

          1. I think circumcision is mandatory there too. It’s a good thing, who wants 750 million covered wagons running around?

          2. Thank god nobody pays any attention to Eleanor Smeal and her ilk.

          3. Re: MNG,

            From the article:

            The government also insists that it has banned coercive birth-control practices in the countryside commonly employed by bureaucrats eager to comply with Beijing’s population-control goals ? and those practices have declined dramatically since the 1980s. The central government recognizes that coercive birth control is deeply unpopular and liable to cause the sort of demonstrations and other forms of protest that Beijing abhors as a threat to its authority.

            Forced Abortions are NOT a matter of policy in China.

            pointing to a policy restricting women’s reproductive choices in an attempt to discredit a group whose raison d’etre is to lobby for women to have such choices.

            The raisond’etre of feminists was never to lobby for giving women reproductive choices – the choices always existed, except in cases of violent aggresion against them, i.e. rape. Feminists lobbied rather for special treatment under the law, hence anti-discrimination laws, the unnecessary ERA, anti-sexual harrasment laws, etc.

            1. “The raisond’etre of feminists was never to lobby for giving women reproductive choices – the choices always existed”

              WTF are you on crack? Abortion, and even many forms of just contraception, were illegal in many states through much of our nation’s history.

              I also don’t see anti-discrimination or anti-sexual harrassment laws as “special treatment” as the laws apply to men and women alike.

              1. Re: MNG,

                WTF are you on crack? Abortion, and even many forms of just contraception, were illegal in many states through much of our nation’s history.

                Abortion is not a form of contraception. Contraception means avoiding getting pregnant. And contraception itself may have been illegal for years in many states, but that is hardly a feminist-only issue, the most famous contraceptive promoter (Margaret Sanger) actually being an eugenicist.

                I also don’t see anti-discrimination or anti-sexual harassment laws as “special treatment” as the laws apply to men and women alike.

                That’s only a half-truth. Anti-discrimination laws were tailored to give special treatment to women above their productive ability, the same with minorities. Sexual harassment laws have in almost all cases being used to favor women, at the behest of feminist organizations. The famous case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, decided in 1986, being significantly notorious because of the scant evidence against the company, yet the ruling went in favor of the plaintiff.

                1. Old Mexican,above their productive ability? The same with minorities? Misoneist and a misogynist.

                  1. Re: MNG,

                    Yes, above their productive abilities, making their labor MORE expensive. You heard that right. Anti-discrimination laws actually increases the cost of labor. You can call me names all you want, your arguments from emotion notwithstanding, but you cannot hide from economic reality.

                    1. I hope your wife teaches you some “economic reality”.

                2. Abortion is a reproductive option, along with contraception and it is this that feminists have pushed and which was made illegal, so at least we know your statement about this such choices “always existing” is absolutely wrong. You’re other points are not reaching as bad, but reaching nonetheless.

                  1. Re: MNG,

                    Abortion is a reproductive option,

                    Sure – by the same token, killing my pregnant wife would become my reproduction option. The question is if abortion is moral (i.e. does not inflict injury on a third party) or not.

                    […] along with contraception and it is this that feminists have pushed and which was made illegal,

                    Contraception is not an exclusively feminist issue, MNG. Libertarians would tell you that in a jiffy – prohibitions on what to put in our bodies is morally wrong.

                    so at least we know your statement about this such choices “always existing” is absolutely wrong.

                    Nothing is absolute. A man can always refrain from having sex with a woman if the man does not want to reproduce, and vice versa. You just want to ignore the choice of restraint as a valid option.

  6. it was done through what Hamsher calls a “feedback loop,” in which Gruber releases an analysis, prominent members of the political media cite his analysis, and then the White House points to those reports to back up their claims about health care reform

    They stole that idea from me and my north Jersey pizza parlors.

  7. But more often, it was done through what Hamsher calls a “feedback loop,” in which Gruber releases an analysis, prominent members of the political media cite his analysis, and then the White House points to those reports to back up their claims about health care reform ? a process which, as Hamsher documents, happened repeatedly, and without any disclosure of Gruber’s administration backing.

    And for me, this is the biggest problem. Almost more than the disclosure issue. No one (except maybe Dave Grossman) cites themselves an a auhoritative source in an argument.

    1. I see that you have not read any appellate decisions or law review articles recently.

    2. That kind of reminds me of this minor scandal during the Bush administration. And when I googled that one, I found another one I hadn’t even heard of.

      Of course, the Pentagon scandal involved paid experts repeating administration-created talking points. This seems to be the opposite – a paid expert who creates statistics to be used in talking points.

  8. Why don’t people get bent about AGW research that is funded by governments pushing AGW legislation?

    Not too surprised this is done.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a government grant that conditioned the getting of the grant on a certain finding being found in the resulting analysis.

      I would imagine every economist at elite institutions worth their salt have had a government grant to study something at some time.

      1. I know grants aren’t results specific. I also understand everyone does it. But I find it hard to believe there isn’t a vested interest in producing a result that will continue to get grant money.

        Especially given the important role government grants play in a lot of research and the how political the subject has become.

      2. Re: MNG,

        I don’t think I’ve ever come across a government grant that conditioned the getting of the grant on a certain finding being found in the resulting analysis.

        I am sure the results of the research, if favorable to extol the State, will convey the researcher a higher chance of receiving a FUTURE grant that one whose research does NOT.

        1. That’s certainly not always the case.

          1. Here’s where you can read about the processes involved in getting research $ from the National Science Foundation
            http://www.nsf.gov/funding/

            And the HHS:
            http://www.hhs.gov/asrt/og/gra…..tsnet.html

          2. That’s certainly not always the case.

            Are you certain of that?

      3. I think you’ve been spending too much time on your hypothetical desert islands.

      4. I know the process. I know it was recently shortened for a lot of grants. I also know the competition is stiff and results are large part of that competition.

        1. and results are large part of that competition [citation needed]

          1. You don’t think impact scores play a part in grants like NIH grants?

            1. I do, I’m just not sure how this supports your argument.

              1. So if impact scores influence payment you don’t think there is any incentive to prove impact? Especially since grants are often simply “renewed.”

                1. I’m not sure how this would apply to AGW research which was our starting point.

                2. I’m also not sure you’re understanding what it means to “show impact” under the grant programs.

  9. ezra klein is basically a juicebox version of jeff gannon

  10. Maybe they learned it from watching the [BOOOOOOSHDIDIT!!!!] Pentagon.

    1. D’oh, you beat me by 4 hours. So, which is the bigger scandal? Sure, it goes against the spirit of Obama’s transparency pledge, which Bush certainly didn’t have, but who really believes a politician’s promises?

  11. I’d like to be a regular commenter on the White House blog.

    I’d like that job; I could just set up a SHUT THE FUCK UP, GIBBS!bot, and continue to hang out here.

  12. I’d like to be a regular commenter on the White House blog.

    maybe someone could set up a mirror blog, only with comments since The White House Blog is too chickenshit to let the people talk back.

    1. Brilliant.

    2. Anybody have any connections with WhiteHouse.com (NSFW last I heard)? That might be a good place to put it.

  13. As someone who has gotten grants from the government and private institutions I can say that the fact that he had a grant from HHS does not mean his analysis was faulty or compromised.

    I mean, is every study that comes from the Reason Foundation worthless because it was paid for by an institution with an express declared ideological mission?

    1. RTFP. The issue is not one of accuracy or efficacy, but one of gross manipulation of public opinion, ethics and honesty, all from an president that promised to have the most transparent adminstration. Evah!.

      I’m sure there is some corn-pone, aw-shucks down home wisdom that could be imparted here that would get right to the heart of the matter, but damned if I can think of any.

      1. Should every expert mentioned by any official who got a government grant at some time in his life (about 99% probably) be referenced only after a disclaimer?

        1. Re: MNG,

          Jane Hamsher notes in an exhaustively researched article at Huffington Post today, an even bigger problem is that prominent government officials ? including some who almost certainly knew of of Gruber’s funding ? cited his research as independent analysis, when, in fact, it was lavishly funded by the administration.

          I would say YES: a disclaimer would have been nice.

          1. When they say “cited his research” do they mean the specific research funded by HHS or just any research done by him? Certainly the latter can be called “independent.”

        2. Whoa! The slippery slope is made of straw!

          1. !

        3. What have you got against honesty and integrity MNG?

          Surely that isn’t too much to expect from the Chosen One.

    2. False equivalence, my friend.

    3. I don’t think that merely receiving government money invalidates your research. But when you receive money from an interested party for research, you have to cop to it. If you do not, and that interested party uses your research to push their agenda, then there is a serious ethical problem going on right there.

    4. You got paid to post here?

  14. Well, the part that said it was a consulting arrangement and not a research grant makes that a little bit different, doesn’t it?

  15. It means the bride price will go up

    LOOOOOVE BROKERS!

    1. I need to watch that movie again.

    2. I wonder where the Chinese men will find unemployed, willing women to marry them and live in all of the splendor of a newly booming economy?

      How will that affect the balance of trade between the US and China?

      1. Yes, Suki, that’s it: the balance of trade. Brilliant.

        1. It all depends on how much exported US labor is scored against Chinese goods now, doesn’t it.

  16. The contract called for Gruber to use his statistical model for evaluating alternatives “derived from the President’s health reform proposal.” It was not a research grant, but rather a consulting contract to advise the White House Office of Health Reform, headed by Obama’s health care czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle, to “develop proposals” for health care reform.

    This leads me to believe the White House wanted him to crunch the numbers in order to “tune them up” prior to sending them to CBO. Or releasing them into the wild.

    But I’m unnaturally suspicious.

    1. Think Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Bangledesh. They’re still poor enough to see being Chinese factory worker’s wife as a step up.

      After that you’ve got Africa, but the Chinese are REALLY racist, so it’s not that big of an option.

      1. Are they racist against women from Ohio, Michigan or other high unemployment states that can be lured by a union job?

        1. And now we’re down to human trafficking. Gosh is there anything that wonderful market can’t do!?

  17. Oh dip! Journalists are totally going to start investigating the provenance of opinion the state launders through them now.

    Right now. No, now. Soon. Now! Now? …Next time!

  18. I wonder if the White house is paying some starry-eyed intern to read *this* blog. Right now.

    *waves*

    Helloooooo, White House intern! Enjoying yourself?

    Listen and learn.

    1. Looks like one of them has been posting like a hysterical girl up there. Three letter handle, begins with M . . .

      1. We already have a hysterical girl here: you.

        1. Is “hysterical” a synonym for “imaginary”?

        2. I agree with three-letter acronym guy.

  19. Gruber? Is that Hans Gruber?

    1. I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life. We can go any way you want it. You can walk out of here or be carried out. But have no illusions. We are in charge. So, decide now, each of you. And please remember: we have left nothing to chance.

      1. Yippee kiyay, motherfucker

  20. Just that little old paranoid, me.

  21. PL, Bubby, I’m your white knight.

  22. Interns ain’t paid to read, silly.

  23. I knew it!

  24. anyone care to point me to a site that collects this type of news story? what about prior admins with this type of practice? When did the “feedback loop” first gain notice in the public media?

    I find this behavior disturbing & not consistent with the political values of a just and free society.

  25. “We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day” he said, pointing to Gruber’s “objective analysis.” What a cynical use of the word “objective”.

  26. In Bush 2’s day a “feedback loop” was called “a conservative echo chamber.”

  27. So there’s even more to blame the administration for. Initially I was wondering how this would fly with Obama’s call for more transparency.

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