Tag Archives: Pitchfork Brigade

How to dismantle an atomic bomb, Shummy style

Tweet O’ The Day, Vermont Division:

ICYMI, Grubermania hit flood stage today, with the Pitchfork Brigade growing ever louder and — so we hear — Fox News prowling the halls of the Statehouse. (BTW, congrats to Sen. Joe Benning for scoring a primetime Fox appearance out of all this. When life gives you lemons, squirt ’em in your enemy’s eye.)

But the rising waters, laden with political opportunity, almost immediately washed away after Gov. Shumlin dynamited the logjam. Health care reform chief Lawrence Miller:

“…we need solid economic modeling in order to move forward with health care reform. I have told Mr. Gruber that I expect his team to complete the work that we need to provide the legislature and Vermonters with a public health care financing plan. I’ve informed Mr. Gruber that we will not be paying him any further for his part in completing that work.”

A cleverly-worded statement that took a little decoding: Gruber won’t get paid any more for grubering the gruber, but his minions will. And considering that (1) the contract with Vermont expires in three months, (2) the renowned Gruber model is well-entrenched by now, (3) Gruber’s got so many contracts (and so many bigger fish to fry), that Vermont is a drop in his bucket, and (4) I bet the staff’s been doing most of the work anyway… well, I don’t imagine this is much skin off Gruber’s nose.

For Shumlin, it allows the continued use of the Gruber model to finish work on his single-payer plan while also lancing a troublesome political boil. He’s always been at his best in crisis.

We probably should have seen this coming, what with the complete silence from legislative Democrats. Really, did a single Democrat call for Gruber’s firing? I don’t recall any. They must have known that a bacon-saving solution was around the corner.

And what’s that I hear in the distance? Methinks it’s the sound of Fox News’ mobile unit getting outta Montpelier as fast as it can. Nothing to see here, folks.

I’m sure the Republicans will find ways to tend the flame of Grubermania… but from now on, it’ll be more like a votive candle than a bonfire. A votive candile lit in memory of an all-too-brief political opportunity.

Ah, Grubermania, we hardly knew ye.

Here’s a pleasant surprise

I didn’t think the Governor had it in him, especially in the wake of his Election Night smackdown. But he’s not giving in to the Pitchfork Brigade’s call for the head of Jonathan Gruber. Neal Goswami of the Mitchell Family Organ:

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday that a state contractor under fire for derisive comments he has made about American voters and a Vermont commentator will not have his state contract terminated despite calls to do so by Republicans.

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, has a personal services contract with Vermont that will pay him up to $400,000 to test economic models related to Shumlin’s universal, publicly-financed health care proposal, often referred to as a single payer system.

The Governor’s stand does come with strings: He will not exercise an option to extend Gruber’s contract beyond its expiration in Februiary. And he did his best to dump all over the contrator whose economic model is too valuable to do without:

…”for me it’s not just what he said, it’s that he actually thinks this stuff. It’s not the way we do things in Vermont.”

Shumlin was also careful to delineate between Gruber the technocrat and Gruber the policy advisor:

“It’s our plan, not his. It’s our policy, it’s our hope for the future and it’s our plan. We’ve used him as a calculator not a policy advisor,” Shumlin said.

Okay, fair enough. Keep him on, and do what you must to distance yourself from his arrogance. Much better than to give in to the howling mob.