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Gruber’s Conflict of Interest

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from Gruber’s Pathetic Congressional Testimony in The National Review by John Fund:

Despite his constant memory lapses, what can we fairly deduce from the role of Jonathan Gruber in Obamacare? A person who advised the Congressional Budget Office in a formal capacity and admits to communicating with it on scoring issues (he hasn’t revealed details) is hired at the same time by the Obama administration via a mysterious non-competitive contract.

During that contract, which is in effect at the same time he is helping CBO with its health-care effort, he helps “torture” (Gruber’s word) the Obamacare bill so it will be scored in the most favorable light by CBO. This all sounds like a conflict of interest and a scandal of the highest order. After the new Congress is sworn in, Jonathan Gruber needs to be called to testify again. And perhaps some of his former colleagues at CBO should be at the witness table with him.

 

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Cocooned from Independent Thought

polar-bears-mate-at-berlin-zoo

From National Review Matthew Continetti writes Liberalism is a Hoax.

Excerpts:

What are the apocalyptic predictions of climate alarmists but Sorelian myths intended to shape legislation, regulation, and the culture in the radicals’ favor? To merely profess agnosticism on the subject of global warming is to elicit calls for one’s removal from the Washington Post. Yet the “pause” in warming has lasted for more than 15 years, leaving puzzled climate scientists, whose jobs depend on the imminence of crisis, speculating that the heat is hiding somewhere in the ocean. The “Climategate” e-mails revealed an insular and opaque scientific community sensitive to the political and financial ramifications of contradictory data. The Sharknado-like hurricanes that environmentalists predicted as a consequence of global warming have yet to appear. Indeed, no hurricane has made landfall on Florida in nine years.

I gave up predicting the weather the first time I didn’t do my homework in expectation of a snow day and was proven wrong. Nevertheless I recognize the political appeal of climate change, the rhetorical power of a threat to correlate forces, to direct their activity. Not to mention the aromatic whiff of potential economic rewards. Retrofitting an economy for a post-fossil-fuel world is a business opportunity for well-connected entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk or the coal baron, radical environmentalist, billionaire, and Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer, who is on record that the government-subsidized green-energy bonanza is above all an opportunity “to make a lot of money.”

So much of contemporary liberalism reeks of a scheme by which already affluent and influential people increase their margins and extend their sway. Liberalism, mind you, in both parties: The Republican elite seems as devoted as their Democratic cousins to the shibboleths of diversity and immigration even as they bemoan the fate of the middle class and seek desperately the votes of white working families.

Just-so stories, extravagant assertions, heated denunciations, empty gestures, moral posturing that increases in intensity the further removed it is from the truth: If the mainstream narration of our ethnic, social, and cultural life is susceptible to error, it is because liberalism is the prevailing disposition of our institutions of higher education, of our media, of our nonprofit and public sectors, and it is therefore cocooned from skepticism and incredulity and independent thought. Sometimes the truth punctures the bubble. And when that happens — and lately it seems to be happening with increasing frequency — liberalism itself goes on trial.

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The Transformation is Unvieled

Victor Davis Hanson writes in The National Review, Liberalism in Ruins

Excerpts:

Obamism did not even deliver on its extravagant promises of a new ethos of ending crony capitalism, the revolving door, lobbyists in government, and government corruption. Indeed, Obama will go down in history as presiding over the most corrupt administration of the last half-century, when historians finally collate the IRS, VA, GSA, and Secret Service scandals; the erosion of constitutional jurisprudence; the serial untruths about Benghazi, amnesty, and Obamacare; the harassment of journalists; the record shakedown of Wall Street lucre in 2008 and 2012;and the flood of lobbyists into and out of the Obama administration. Eric Holder – with his jet-setting to sporting events on the public dime, spouting inflammatory racialist rhetoric, politicizing the Justice Department, selectively enforcing settled law, and being held in contempt of Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents — managed what one might have thought impossible: He has made Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell seem a minor rogue in comparison.

Six years after the summer of hope and change, no one in the Democratic party is showcasing American foreign policy, pushing for cap-and-trade legislation, singing the praises of Obamacare, bragging about the way amnesty was handled, or pointing to a new cleaner and more transparent federal bureaucracy. What started out with “hope and change” and “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” ended up with a president who habitually misleads his countrymen, a baffling array of scandals, the discrediting of the obsequious media, and policies that not only did not work but by any historical model could never really have worked.

As proof, watch as Democrats regroup for 2016. Their unspoken commandment will be that most of what Obama did, they must either ignore or deny.

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The Modern Source of Abusive Power

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From The National Review George Will writes Government for the Strongest and Richest

Intellectually undemanding progressives, excited by the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) — advocate of the downtrodden and the Export-Import Bank — have at last noticed something obvious: Big government, which has become gargantuan in response to progressives’ promptings, serves the strong. It is responsive to factions sufficiently sophisticated and moneyed to understand and manipulate its complexity.

Hence Democrats, the principal creators of this complexity, receive more than 70 percent of lawyers’ political contributions. Yet progressives, refusing to see this defect — big government captured by big interests — as systemic, want to make government an ever-more-muscular engine of regulation and redistribution. Were progressives serious about what used to preoccupy America’s Left — entrenched elites, crony capitalism, and other impediments to upward mobility — they would study The New Class Conflict, by Joel Kotkin, a lifelong Democrat.

In the 1880s, Kotkin says, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad revenues were larger than the federal government’s revenues. That was the old economy. This is the new: In 2013, the combined ad revenues of all American newspapers were smaller than Google’s; so were magazines’ revenues. In 2013, Google’s market capitalization was six times GM’s, but Google had one-fifth as many employees. The fortunes of those Kotkin calls “the new Oligarchs” are based “primarily on the sale of essentially ephemeral goods: media, advertising and entertainment.”

He calls another ascendant group the Clerisy, which is based in academia (where there are now many more administrators and staffers than full-time instructors), media, the nonprofit sector, and, especially, government: Since 1945, government employment has grown more than twice as fast as America’s population. The Founders worried about government being captured by factions; they did not foresee government becoming society’s most rapacious and overbearing faction.

The Clerisy is, Kotkin says, increasingly uniform in its views, and its power stems from “persuading, instructing and regulating the rest of society.” The Clerisy supplies the administrators of progressivism’s administrative state, the regulators of the majority that needs to be benevolently regulated toward progress.

HKO

The progressive shift aiming to empower the average man also sought to empower  the elites and technocrats who felt the common man could not properly understand the needs of a modern society. The power required to run the progressive state was not insulated from the human seduction of power in the private sector, but it was insulated from the accountability.  Given the large changes in commercial enterprises such as Amazon, Apple and Uber, consumers and suppliers have created communities that defy the progressive regulatory state.  The state of modern commerce changes too fast to regulate effectively. Systems such as Uber’s ride rating regulates service far better than Rube Goldberg regulations.

The progressive state now betrays its original ideals and has become the source of abusive power rather than its nemesis.

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When Morality Meets Power

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From National Review Matthew Continetti writes Liberalism is a Hoax.

Excerpts:

It is sometimes difficult to understand that, for the Left, racism and sexism and prejudice are not ethical categories but political ones. We are not merely talking about bad manners when the subject turns to Michael Brown or UVA or Thomas Piketty. We are talking about power.

“The new elite that seeks to supersede the old one, or merely share its power and honors, does not admit to such intention frankly and openly,” writes Vilfredo Pareto. “Instead it assumes the leadership of all the oppressed, declares that it will pursue not its own good but the good of the many; and it goes to battle, not for the rights of a restricted class but for the rights of almost the entire citizenry.”

Such is the conduct of our new elite, the archons and tribunes of the “coalition of the ascendant,” which proclaims itself the advocate of minority rights, of the poor, of the sick, as it entrenches its power and furthers its self-interest.

For an example of that rising and fabulist elite, look no further than Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who in a 2013 speech confided that the passage of Obamacare was due to a “lack of transparency” and “the stupidity of the American people or whatever.” Here is a highly compensated professional, who has received close to $6 million in consulting fees from state and federal government, admitting to like-minded audiences that the Obama administration rigged the process at the Congressional Budget Office, and that the law was written so if states did not establish health exchanges they would not receive Medicaid subsidies (the government is now arguing the opposite before the Supreme Court).

The response? More lies: Nancy Pelosi says she’s never heard of Gruber, and the president and his former secretary of Health and Human Services minimize his role in creating their signature legislation. (Gruber visited the White House, including the Oval Office, more than 20 times.) Gruber hasn’t been delivering speeches over the last few years. He’s been delivering confessions. And his words only embitter the recollection of other Obamacare promises that have been exposed as false: that the law would cut the deficit, that it would lower health care premiums by $2,500, that if you like your plan you can keep your plan.

HKO

We are foolish to believe that human and moral shortcomings in the free market are somehow absent in the political sphere.  We are also foolish not to recognize that these failures are held to greater accountability when they are not protected by political favoritism.