Here's why Jonathan Gruber was at once so prominent and arrogant: He knew his audience wouldn't challenge him and critics would have no outlets to offer alternative research in the mainstream media, blogosphere, policy circles and academic publications. In short, Gruber, like many liberal economists who are self-pronounced health economists, had a monopoly. The fact that Gruber received NIH money to study part D right after the election and White House cash to confirm that Obamacare would boost insurance enrollment, save money and improve health AND was flacking for Obamacare was not considered a conflict.
Compare his treatment to that of Joseph DiMasi, another leading economist who studies the economic and opportunity costs of developing drugs. DiMasi's critics have what amounts to an open mike in the media. Academic publications have allowed critics to assail his research without any evidence or economic analyses. DiMasi's research credibility is attacked as suspect because pharmaceutical companies provided support to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, where he heads up economic research. But above all, DiMasi is dissed because his research -- which shows that drug development is costly because it's risky and sometimes done inefficiently -- doesn't fit the liberal narrative that drug companies sell useless drugs at outrageous prices because of monopolies and their ability to bribe doctors and the FDA.
So Grubernomics can only survive if other viewpoints are systematically silenced or suppressed while media outlets, economic conferences, etc give the Gruber-views exalted status/