With just days until Obamacarearchitect Jonathan Gruber testifies before Congress, a 2008 study hasresurfaced which reveals that former New York City mayor Michael Bloombergfunded research by Gruber on the benefits of tobacco taxes. The study alsoincluded assistance from now-Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director TomFrieden.
Gruber will undoubtedly begrilled next Tuesday on the series of videos uncovered by Rich Weinstein (whoalso assisted in this report) wherein Gruber brags that deception and “thestupidity of the American voter” helped Democrats and the White House ramObamacare to passage as law. Gruber will also likely be asked about the millions ofdollars he made as an Obamacare consultant to federal and state governments.
But as it turns out, MichaelBloomberg, who is infamous for regulating everything from large sodas totanning salons to guns, hired Jonathan Gruber in 2008 to write a report on theimplications of tobacco taxes, titled A ModernEconomic View of Tobacco Taxation. Therein, Gruber thanksObama’s now-CDC Director Tom Frieden for providing feedback on the paper andfor his “very helpful suggestions.“
Gruber’s position oncigarette taxes was already established and well-documented. In April 2002,he published an article titled”Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier?” that promoted the benefits of highercigarette taxes. In May of that year, Gruber also wrote an article titled,”Estimating Price Elasticities when there is Smuggling: The Sensitivity ofSmoking Price in Canada.” The report pointed out that in Canada in the1990s there was widespread smuggling “in response to large tax increases.” Therefore, Gruber wasfully aware of the potential of illegal cigarette sales from tax increases whenhe wrote his 2008 article for Mayor Bloomberg.
Both Obamacare and tobacco taxeshave been public policy disasters that have spawned myriad unintendedconsequences. In Obamacare, millions ofpeople have lost their doctors and/or policies. Enrollment numbers are waybelow the Obama administration’s projections. Soon we will find out ifcompanies will cancel employer plans, thereby throwing many more people ontothe exchanges than anticipated.
In regards to cigarette taxes,the problem of black-market tobacco sales has exploded all along the east coast. According to a Bloomberg article published in May, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchotstated, “We are all-hands-on-deck as far ascigarette smuggling because it’s no longer a mom-and-pop operation… It’ssomething that significant criminal entities are involved in, and it’s atarget-rich environment.” What happenedon Staten Island with Eric Garner is tragic, but his confrontation with police would not have happened without the cigarette taxes which created a market for his alleged illegal sales–taxes passed without consideration for unintended and often adverseconsequences.
The lesson: don’t allow overlypowerful politicians to hire economists with ideological axes to grind to craftpublic policies riddled with unintended consequences
Beware: what is another issue of interest to Gruber?Global warming.
Here’s hoping Gruber’scongressional testimony on Tuesday will further lead to Oblimination: theend and reversal of Obama’s failed policies.