How a once-promising economist really earns his weekly envelope.
It’s an article of faith among progressives that they are intellectually and morally superior to conservatives and pretty much everyone else. In fact, the need to see themselves as a cut above mere mortals is far more important to them than any ideology, policy position, or set of objective facts. This is why Barack Obama was able, after being elected President, to reverse his position on the inclusion of an individual mandate in health care “reform” without losing a single supporter. And it is why Paul Krugman maintains a huge progressive readership despite his penchant for treating them like fools.
He has thus garnered the applause of progressives everywhere by rebuking Senate Republicans for proceeding with Obamacare “repeal and replace” without following the open process that he claims characterized the passage of the “Affordable Care Act.” In a recent blog post, for example, he accused the GOP of plotting to pass the bill in secret: “And they’ll try to do it by dead of night, of course.” The term “Orwellian” has regrettably become rather hackneyed, but no other word adequately describes this sentence. It is exactly how Obamacare was passed. As the Wall Street Journal reminds its readers:
On Dec. 19, 2009, a Saturday, then Majority Leader Harry Reid tossed the 2,100-page bill the Senate had spent that fall debating and offered a new bill drafted in an invitation-only back room. Democrats didn’t even pretend to care what was in it while passing it in the dead of night on Dec. 24, amid a snowstorm, in the first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.
None of this is news. It is, in fact, one of the reasons Obamacare has been reviled for so long by the voters. Indeed, an argument can be made that this single piece of legislation — and how it was passed — is largely responsible for the decimation of the Democratic Party that began with its loss of the House, continued with its loss of the Senate, and culminated with the defeat of Hillary Clinton. If Krugman’s progressive readers were the intellectual heavyweights they imagine themselves, they would consider his claims about the fictive transparency of Obamacare’s passage an insult to their collective intelligence.
But their smug ignorance is impervious to objective reality. Just before the blog post noted above was published, Krugman tweeted “A few thoughts on the process of passing Trumpcare” that fail to pass the laugh test. Among his “few thoughts,” Krugman included this howler: “ACA advocates were always clear about what they were trying to do and how they were trying to do it.” To avoid using the “O” word again, let’s just call this horse manure. Krugman assumes that his readers have forgotten what Jonathan Gruber, a key architect of Obamacare, told us about the kind of clarity its advocates actually sought:
This bill was written in a tortured way… if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really critical for the thing to pass.
Krugman knows this, of course, yet assumes his brainiac readers don’t. And he’s probably right, if they depend on the media for actual news. Which gives the lie to another of Krugman’s “thoughts”: “Republicans have created a myth about the passage of the ACA — that it was rammed through without consideration.… In fact, there were many hearings, lots of reporting …” But the Gruber revelation didn’t come from “reporting” by the media. The blockbuster video was discovered by a private citizen, Rich Weinstein, who got tired of waiting for “reporters” to stop pimping Obamacare and do their jobs.
Another of Krugman’s “thoughts” on the transparency of the Obamacare process involves the 2010 White House summit on “reform.” Once again, Krugman treats his readers like idiots. Obama came to that event with a closed mind and his trademark arrogance. The Republicans outlined countless problems with the general plan that guaranteed its insolvency and inevitable failure. In this clip from the summit, Paul Ryan explains why it wasn’t workable, pointing out the CBO tricks noted by Gruber, and explaining that it would cost $2.3 trillion. Ryan was right. Obama ignored every word.
Thus, Obamacare is imploding. Naturally Krugman ignores this and instead provides another “thought” that misrepresents the original goals of reform: “The goal was to expand coverage, the means a three-legged stool of regulation, mandates, and subsidies that had already been tested.” Actually, the main selling point used by Obama, the Democrats, and Krugman himself was that it would “bend the cost curve down.” As Ryan predicted at the summit, it never had a prayer of accomplishing that goal. And, according to HHS, health insurance premiums have doubled since the “Affordable Care Act” was implemented.
So, if progressives are intellectually superior to the rest of us, why can’t they figure out that Krugman is lying about the history of Obamacare? They don’t want to, of course. They need to see themselves as a cut above the hoi polloi. If they admit the truth about Obamacare’s tawdry legislative history and subsequent failure to accomplish any of its goals, it means people like you and I were smarter than they were from the jump. Even worse, it might mean we’re right about other things as well. In the end, that’s what Paul Krugman gets paid for — perpetuating the pathetic progressive superiority complex.
Photo credit: Zé Carlos Barretta, Flickr, Creative Commons