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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Inventing a Failure": Lies, Damned Lies?

Has Obamacare turned the corner? You might not be able to keep your doctor, you might not be able to keep your health care plan, and it might cost you more, but Paul Krugman thinks so.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Inventing a Failure" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/05/opinion/krugman-inventing-a-failure.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), Krugman writes:

"Mainstream politicians didn’t always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies and — in this case — bogus statistics. And the fact that this has become standard operating procedure for a major party bodes ill for America’s future.

. . . .

The really big policy news of 2014, at least so far, is the spectacular recovery of the Affordable Care Act from its stumbling start, thanks to an extraordinary late surge that took enrollment beyond early projections. The age mix of enrollees has improved; insurance companies are broadly satisfied with the risk pool. Multiple independent surveys confirm that the percentage of Americans without health insurance has already declined substantially, and there’s every reason to believe that over the next two years the act will meet its overall goals, except in states that refuse to expand Medicaid.

. . . .

So Republicans are spreading disinformation about health reform because it works, and because they can — there is no sign that they pay any political price when their accusations are proved false."

"Mainstream politicians didn’t always try to advance their agenda through lies, damned lies"? Peculiar. The Obama administration's attempt to blame the attack on the Benghazi consulate on an Internet video amounted to just this sort of mendaciousness, but I am wandering off target. Is Obamacare the success that Krugman makes it out to be? Are Republicans hoodwinking the electorate?

In a recent Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The White House’s Obamacare victory lap looking more like a false start" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/29/white-houses-obamacare-victory-lap-looking-more-like-a-false-start/?tid=pm_politics_pop), Aaron Blake observes (my emphasis in red):

"As we have noted, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows approval of the law and of Obama's implementation of it have dropped after a momentary boost. Americans disapprove of the law overall 48-44 and disapprove of Obama's implementation 57-37.

What's perhaps more telling is that, despite the rare good news of the past few weeks, their perceptions of the law remain basically as-is -- that is, pretty dim. To wit:
•Americans say 50-41 that the implementation of the law has been worse than they expected rather than better.
•They say 44-24 that the health-care system is getting worse rather than getting better as a result of Obamacare.
•They say 29-14 that the quality of care is getting worse rather than better.
•They say 47-8 that their health-care costs are increasing due to the law rather than decreasing.
•They say 58-11 that the overall cost of health care in the United States is increasing rather than decreasing. "

These negative perceptions of Obamacare are all the result of Republican lies? I don't think so, unless Krugman would have us believe that Americans, who elected Obama twice to be their president, are all dunderheads, even when it involves their wallets and purses.

Is the Affordable Care Act affordable? Obviously many Americans don't think so.

What will be the ultimate effect of the Affordable Care Act on America's national debt? Or stated otherwise, is the Affordable Care Act affordable to the nation as a whole? The jury is still out - particularly given a second delay by the Obama administration of the employer mandate in February - but the prognosis is not sanguine, notwithstanding slightly lower deficit estimates (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/14/us-usa-healthcare-premiums-idUSBREA3D1KQ20140414).

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