We’ve all heard in recent days about a prominent gay basher hiring a male prostitute from RentBoy, ostensibly to "carry his bags" but in reality to give him "the long stroke" on a steamy European holiday.
In my far less titillating research on the Hamilton Project (see work listed below), I have come across some interesting ties between MIT economist Jonathan Gruber and the Hamilton Project. Gruber–it turns out–carries bags for the Obama administration and the Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project. Gruber is a RentEconomist ready and seemingly willing to take any economic position (pardon the RentBoy inspired pun) you might want, for money that is, lots of it as Emptwheel has shown.
Readers here at FDL are doubtless aware of Gruber because of the fine work done by Emptywheel and Jane H. on health care.
Emptywheel wrote this in January, 2010:
MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber has been the go-to source that all the health care bill apologists point to to defend otherwise dubious arguments. But he has consistently failed to disclose that he has had a sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services since June 19, 2009 to consult on the “President’s health reform proposal.”
He is one source for the claim that the excise tax will result in raises for workers (though his underlying study is in-apt to the excise tax question). He is the basis for the argument that the Senate bill reduces families’ risk–even if it remains totally unaffordable.
Emptywheel went on to point out that while Gruber was providing intellectual support for Obama’s health care proposals, he was simultaneously taking in lots of money from Obama’s HHS Department. Money to the tune of $392,600. It’s all there in her seminal diary, "Jonathan Gruber Failed to Disclose His $392,600 Contracts with HHS."
But while I have been doing research recently on the links between the Obama government and Robert Rubin and Goldman Sachs and the think tank they founded, The Hamilton Project, I have found that there are Obama-Gruber-Rubin/Goldman Sachs/Hamilton Project connections going back to 2006.
A search of the Hamilton Project’s own web site reveals 21 connections spread over three pages: connections between the MIT-based economist and the Hamilton Project. That includes papers given at the project, books and events attended.
Perhaps the most important of these was at the launch of the Hamilton project back on April 5, 2006. Who attended the launch? Well, Robert Rubin, ex-head of Goldman Sachs was there, of course, because he and Goldman provided the bucks for the Hamilton Project. It’s a neo-liberal think tank cleverly hidden like a Trojan Horse within the Brookings Institution, which is generally seen by the press as "liberal".
Who else was there? Yes, RentEconomist Gruber was there; in fact he was a panel presenter. Who else?
None other than a young Senator from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. RentSenator Obama gave a speech (you can see a video of it here as well as full information on the launch) at the Hamilton Project in which he thanked "my friend, Bob" [Rubin], and launched into a defense of NAFTA and the need for more NAFTAs as well as a need for cuts in entitlements (like social security). So is it any wonder that Obama has appointed to his budget cutting commission two people (Alice Rivlin and Anne Fudge) who espouse the same Hamilton project/Robert Rubin line and who have ties to the Hamilton Project/Brookings?
"He who pays gets to call the tune" applies not only to RentBoys. In this case, Robert Rubin-Goldman Sachs are paying and calling the tune. Rubin also made opening remarks at the launch.
Who else was in attendance for the Hamilton Project’s launch in addition to Obama, Robert Rubin and RentEconomist Gruber? A virtual Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs people, all budget hawks when it comes to entitlements. The moderator of the panel discussions at the launch was none other than Peter Orszag, the first Director of the Hamilton Project now in the Obama Administration as his Budget Director. Another panelist was RentEconomist, Austan Goolsbee, then an economist with the University of Chicago, now on Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Other people at the launch of significance included Strobe Talbott and Roger Altman. Both have huge connections in the Democratic party and with the Obama administration. Also, there, the Hamilton Project’s second Director, Jason Furman who would later serve as a chief economic adviser to Obama in his presidential campaign.
Let’s return to RentEconomist Gruber. His presentation was in a panel with Goolsbee’s; the panel topic was "Innovative Policy Ideas." There is a link to his speech here and you can read the entire transcript of his talk here.
Here’s a sampling of "Gruber’s ideas". I put that in quotes because he himself in his paper admits the ideas are those pushed by Peter Orszag. Significantly, they also are those of Barack Obama’s, the Hamilton project’s, Robert Rubin’s and of course, Obama’s deficit reduction committee:
"I’m going to be talking today about a proposal that I have developed with Peter Orszag and Bill Gale. They really deserve most of the credit. …What is the problem? Americans are leaving work earlier but living longer. Social Security was not designed to be a full income replacement. It never was. It is under, as we know, enormous financing pressure. Employer-provided pensions are disappearing. And most importantly, probably, the enormous rise in health care costs for the elderly are going to continue and place Medicare in jeopardy."
One of the RentEconomist’s "fixes" to this "social security problem" (actually social security at present doesn’t have an economic problem and if it did, it could be easily fixed by raising the limit of the social security tax on earnings to include all earnings but that would hit people like Robert Rubin hard) is essentially to privitize social security. Hence, Gruber wants each person to have a private annuity partly supported by the government. Note that there is a high probability that such a policy would create even more wealth for Rubin and Goldman Sachs who doubtless would have their fingers in the creation and administration of such annuities.
It bears repeating that the above views are also those of Barack Obama, the Hamilton project, Robert Rubin and, of course, Obama’s deficit reduction committee. He’s stacked that committee just as he stacked health care reform by taking single payer/the public option off the table. See the last article in the readings below for evidence that Obama has packed his commission with "social security looters".
With RentEconomist Gruber we see the circle coming full. Robert Rubin and Goldman set up a think tank that really is a Trojan Horse for their neo-liberal ideas: more free trade pacts, outsourcing jobs, cutting entitlements and cutting restrictions on financial/banking services.
Presto, we have the Hamilton Project.
It then invites nominally independent "experts", RentExperts like Gruber who are paid to come and give speeches and deliver papers that support the party line. They also bring on ambitious politicians (like Obama and later Joe Biden) to beat the drum. All the while, money and influence are flowing from a hidden source: Rubin and Goldman Sachs. They also bring on board journalists (like from ABC news) to spread the word. They float ideas that will make more money for themselves. In short, what we see here is the influence of money and power that completely subvert democratic institutions. Note that Obama has essentially outsourced to his independently appointed deficit reduction committee a task that should be Congress’s.
Gruber’s RentEconomist work with the Hamilton project didn’t, of course, end with the project’s launch. Other Gruber appearances include as an expert panelist at a Hamilton Project event on July 17, 2007, “Who’s Got the Cure?” presided over by Robert Rubin. Gruber later wrote a chapter in a Brookings Institution book with a similar name, “Who Has the Cure? Hamilton Project Ideas on Health Care” (2008). Importantly, the book was edited by Jason Furman (second Director of the Hamilton Project who worked in Obama’s team). It has another chapter by Jeanne M. Lambrew. Lambrew serves as Obama’s Director, HHS Office of Reform and is a close associate of Tom Daschle (they together wrote a book on health care reform). Daschle, it should be recalled, was Obama’s original pick to head HHS before it turned out he dodged and fudged on his tax returns.
Gruber’s other RentEconomist work (covering three pages of a search at the Hamilton’s Project’s own web site) can be looked at by the reader following the links above.
What is important here is that an enormously wealthy group of people headed by Robert Rubin have created an institution (the Hamilton Project) that appears to be independent and even progressive. It in turn brings in hired economic guns like RentEconomist Gruber who are willing to promote the purposes of that essentially undemocratic institution. For a price that is. So too with Obama himself. He’s a RentPolitician.
From them emanate a "call for reform" whether it be in health care, or in deficit reduction or financial reform. But behind it all there is a guiding hand hidden from the public. At least the RentBoy that our story began with was upfront. He acknowledged (through the RentBoy web site) that he would provide just about any service, for a price. Unfortunately, we have RentEconomists, RentExperts, and yes, RentPoliticians, who take the money and perform just about anything too at their master’s command.
They’re just not as up front about it!
FOR FURTHER READING:
Please see an earlier diary written here that contains an extensive list of the connections between the Obama government and Robert Rubin/Goldman Sachs/the Hamilton Project.
It also has a list of readings recommended (with links) at its end that cover subjects in this diary.
A revealing, important article written by Matthew Skomarovsky shows, as its title indicates that "Obama Packs Debt Commission With Social Security Looters". Read it here.