Saturday, November 15, 2014

On The Perils of Being a Policy-Engaged Academic

Jon Gruber is getting a ton of heat for his comments on Obamacare, which were recorded in seminars. Jon was the intellectual architect of Obamacare, which has fundamentally changed how health care is funded in this country. Millions who did not have health insurance are now covered. Few academics have had the policy impact that Gruber has.

When you have influence, out come the knives. Opponents of Obamacare have scoured the internet for "gotcha" Gruber moments.  And because Jon is a forthright academic, there are lots of examples of him saying what's true rather than what is politically expedient.  There are probably also cases of him being wrong, which happens even to MIT economists. A video of me being impolitic and/or wrong would be a breeze to compile.

I am proud to say that Gruber was my doctoral adviser at MIT. He taught me how to be a rigorous and relevant researcher, and for that I am eternally grateful.