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Friday, October 4, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Reform Turns Real": Welcome to Krugman's Alternate Reality

"Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

. . . .

It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details."


- Paul Krugman, "Confronting the Malefactors" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html), October 2011

Do you remember "Occupy Wall Street"? Do you remember how Krugman suggested that OWS would prove a "turning point" in a populist war against American financial institutions? Is there anyone more delusional than this Nobelist? Well, today Krugman, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Reform Turns Real" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/04/opinion/krugman-reform-turns-real.html?_r=0), is now telling us:


"But Obamacare isn’t up for a popular referendum, or a revote of any kind. It’s the law, and it’s going into effect. Its future will depend on how it works over the next few years, not the next few weeks.

. . . .

So Obamacare is off to a good start, with even the bad news being really good news for the program’s future. We’re not quite there yet, but more and more, it looks as if health reform is here to stay."

"Obamacare is off to a good start"? Kathleen Parker, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Waiting for Obamacare" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-waiting-for-obamacare/2013/09/20/1eae4f96-2232-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html?hpid=z2), made the case that Obamacare needs to be delayed and not defunded. Parker observed in no-nonsense fashion:

"[T]he Affordable Care Act (ACA) is becoming increasingly unpopular. Only 39 percent of Americans currently favor the health-care program, compared with 51 percent in January, according to a recent CNN/ORC International poll.

Some of the reasons:

●Many companies are cutting worker hours to below the threshold (30 hours) at which they're required to comply with Obamacare. (SeaWorld is cutting hours for thousands of workers.)

●Others are cutting workers completely to avoid compliance or to reduce costs associated with the expanded coverage. (The Cleveland Clinic cited Obamacare as one reason for offering early retirement to 3,000 workers and hinting at future layoffs.)

●Many young people, unemployed or earning little, will have trouble paying premiums once open enrollment for health insurance exchanges begins Oct. 1. Even discounts won’t be enough for some, who then will face fines or have to turn to parents who face their own insurance challenges. List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a mid-range plan will average close to $330 per month, according to a recent Avalere Health study. For someone who is 60, premiums will run about $615 a month. Forget retirement."

Obamacare is "the law, and it's going into effect"? This purported concern for the rule of law was also voiced in a prior Krugman's op-ed entitled "One Reform, Indivisible" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/opinion/krugman-one-reform-indivisible.html?_r=0), in which he declared:

"On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it."

In fact, it has been the Obama administration which has delayed implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act (see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/2013/08/05/delay-of-obamacares-employer-mandate-exacerbates-an-already-bad-situation/ and http://www.cnbc.com/id/100959960). And as was pointed out by George Will in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-obamas-unconstitutional-steps-worse-than-nixons/2013/08/14/e0bd6cb2-044a-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html?hpid=z2):

"President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and red lines is floundering. And at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality.

Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: 'I didn’t simply choose to' ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, 'this was in consultation with businesses.'

. . . .

Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: 'Where does the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?' The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority."

Or in other words, Obama can sponsor and sign into law the Affordable Care Act and then delay implementation of its unpopular provisions, until after the 2014 midterm elections.

And then there is the $64,000 question which even Krugman acknowledges in his opinion piece:

"What we still don’t know, and is crucial for the program’s longer-term success, is who will sign up. Will there be enough young, healthy enrollees to provide a favorable risk pool and keep premiums relatively low?"

Or stated otherwise: Are there enough healthy youngsters willing to pay more in order to subsidize the unfavorable risk pool, thereby preventing a fiscal disaster, i.e. Democratic Senator Max Baucus's "train wreck"? I also don't know the answer.

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