I used to think Paul Krugman was smart, but just a liberal ideologue, now I’m not so sure

Krugman on health care reform … after only six months of operation, it’s all working. Even it’s most ardent supporters know only time will tell. Any objective person will come up with a logical definition of success … or maybe not if you are a Nobel prize winner. However, Krugman defined himself below quite accurately, “It’s about politics and ideology, not analysis.”

I wrote this post long before it was released on my blog, in fact the same day Krugman published his piece, but on June 27 Chris Conover in Forbes wrote a rebuttal to Krugman along the same lines; take a look.

“To err is human,” wrote Seneca. “To persist is diabolical.” Everyone makes incorrect predictions. But to be that consistently, grossly wrong takes special effort. So what’s this all about?

Many readers won’t be surprised by the answer: It’s about politics and ideology, not analysis. But while this observation isn’t particularly startling, it’s worth pointing out just how completely ideology has trumped evidence in the health policy debate.

And I’m not just talking about the politicians; I’m talking about the wonks. It’s remarkable how many supposed experts on health care made claims about Obamacare that were clearly unsupportable. For example, remember “rate shock”? Last fall, when we got our first information about insurance premiums, conservative health care analysts raced to claim that consumers were facing a huge increase in their expenses. It was obvious, even at the time, that these claims were misleading; we now know that the great majority of Americans buying insurance through the new exchanges are getting coverage quite cheaply. [Didn’t you forget that’s only because of tax subsidies and higher deductibles and co-payments?]

Or remember claims that young people wouldn’t sign up, so that Obamacare would experience a “death spiral” of surging costs and shrinking enrollment? It’s not happening: a new survey by Gallup finds both that a lot of people have gained insurance through the program and that the age mix of the new enrollees looks pretty good. [And you have yet to learn of the actual claims experience]

What was especially odd about the incessant predictions of health-reform disaster was that we already knew, or should have known, that a program along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work. Obamacare was closely modeled on Romneycare, which has been working in Massachusetts since 2006, and it bears a strong family resemblance to successful systems abroad, for example in Switzerland. Why should the system have been unworkable for America? [Work? Nobody knows if the Affordable Care Act will work and more importantly, we don’t even know what “work” even means]. [Switzerland? Well, by some measures the Swiss do have a working system, but costs are still a problem, basic coverage is generally supported by supplemental coverage most people buy for things like not being in a hospital ward, hospitalization is limited to the area in which you live and there are still deductibles and co-pays. In other words, pluses and minuses, some which may not be acceptable to Americans.]

But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible. [ Do you mean incompetence like managing the VA and fraud under Medicare or perhaps ignoring the warnings about the solvency of Social Security and Medicare that the Trustees mention in their report each year?]


  1. The problem I see with Obamacare is that it is still trial and error. I see increased premiums for me while many people who never had insurance previously (by choice) are getting subsidies to purchase insurance as was pointed out in this article about the young Americans getting coverage now. The expansion of entitlement programs continue and hard working business owners like myself are subjected to rules that don’t allow me to pay for my insurance through my business. It is considered employee discrimination if I pay more of my premium than my employees’ premium. How does that make sense? I should do like many of the large corporations out there and just stop providing benefits for my employees and pay the penalty. In my opinion, we are only at the beginning of a system that will fail. The intent of the law was to provide insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. There are many other ways to accomplish that problem without having to completely overhaul the entire system. It’s getting more and more difficult for the small business owner to stay in business while government and large corporations continue to expand and pass the cost of expansion off to hard working middle class Americans through higher taxes and higher costs for doing business. Middle class is stuck in the predicament of making it easier for the lower class to receive more free benefits and upper class to charge us more for everything we pay for.


    1. You raise some good points. The Administration has forgotten who the middle class is. The fact is that as much as they rant about the 1% the bulk of the tax money to pay for all the promises must come from the middle class.


  2. You are so right about this “in the tank” for the Obama administration cronie! Perhaps he is looking to become Secretary of the Treasury….God help us….You would think as an academician he would be a bit more objective or at least give the appearance of being objective. Remember this is the” I can’t get enough stimulus” guy. Inflation…what’s that?…he will tell you it’s well under control….I guess he gets free lunches and supper, doesn’t pay on campus rent……and bicycles( who needs gasoline?) to classes at Princeton!


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