The Wonk Deficit

Krugman writes:

I donít think [the wonk gap] this is unique to health care, or especially unusual. Monetary policy, fiscal policy, you name it, thereís a gap, although not quite as large as on health. [. . .] Iím surprised that Chait doesnít refer to Upton Sinclairís principle: itís difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. In fact, in general right-wing think tanks prefer people who genuinely canít understand the issues ó it makes them more reliable.

[. . .] Wouldnít the right be better served by better wonks? No. For one thing, theyíd be unreliable ó they might start making sense at an inappropriate moment. And, crucially, the media generally canít tell the difference.

(Emphasis supplied.) Is this really so hard to understand? Yet there is this pretend world of "wonk debates" which legitimizes for the clueless Media the very dishonesty Krugman describes. And then Ezra Klein thinks Dems are going to win the health bill debate this time around. There is more than one deficit being described here. Which reminds me of this 2006 post.

Speaking for me only

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    digby (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:31:36 PM EST
    Republican governors are trying to tap the brakes on the law's addition of 16 million Americans to the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, starting in 2014. They also want to axe a piece of the law that makes it more difficult for states to cut Medicaid enrollees to patch budget shortfalls.

    "The health care legislation is really bearing down on the states," said Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "The mandates that are in that legislation will most likely cripple health care delivery, with a price tag that will absolutely bust the budgets."

    That's over half the uninsured who were supposed to be covered under the new reforms.
    Sadly, I won't be surprised to see the Democrats help them do it, and I have no idea if the White House would be willing to deal this piece away. After all, it's not the part of the reforms that everyone is so proud of --- it's the old clunky government paid health care that we've decided isn't sexy enough for our modern "market based progressivism." link

    Expect this to sail away ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:10:52 PM EST
    quietly in the night with Congressional Dems and the White House blowing kisses of farewell after it.

    As you say it's not "sexy" or "bipartisan-y" enough for the gang in D.C., so it goes.


    I remember (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by NYShooter on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 11:50:40 AM EST
     Krugman's position regarding the Health care (insurance) debates. I'm certainly no Krugman Groupie, but I just don't remember any big sea-change in his position regarding the Bill's shortcomings. Even as the billl was about to be voted on, and he was pressed to give his opinion he prefaced his "Yes" vote by listing all the woeful defects in the Bill.

    But, as the gentleman from Hawaii just pointed out, when the clock ran out and the decision: pass, or don't pass, was imminent, Krugman said the bill had some important sections that would help many people and not passing it, even with all the capitulations, would simply be unconscionable.

    on the post about gatekeepers (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:19:00 PM EST
    there doesnt even seem to be gates anymore.

    And BTD (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:10:30 PM EST
    got very little response to that post. Lo, how things have changed on that account.

    Ezra's about as impressive (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:47:20 PM EST
    as the average rightie TV wonk.

    Hold On Now (none / 0) (#6)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:21:18 PM EST
    Is Krugman one of the intelligent wonks we all listen to?

    "For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. It wouldn't transform our health care system; in fact, Americans whose jobs come with health coverage would see little effect. But it would make a huge difference to the less fortunate among us, even as it would do more to control costs than anything we've done before.  This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." - Krugman

    Here is the draft letter I have so far:

    Dear Paul,

    When I make this point to some of my liberal leaning friends they "tell me otherwise". They believe that Obamacare is terrible and a net negative.

    Please help.


    Friendly Neighborhood Angry Black Guy

    Irrelevant on this site (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:48:53 PM EST
    Many people here, including BTD, have long considered the ONLY redeeming quality of this POS to be the expansion of medicare.  It's been a loud and clear chorus here.  

    Do we think that makes up for all that is awful about the POS?


    Do we grudgingly accept it as the ONLY good thing about the POS?


    Does that make the POS anything more than a POS that helps far fewer people than it should?


    The Cult of Low Expectations continues.


    Expansion of Medicare? (none / 0) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 09:00:33 AM EST

    I don't understand (5.00 / 0) (#13)
    by lilburro on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 08:20:29 AM EST
    why you find it so important to convince people on the left re: the healthcare act.  When you break down the polling on the act, there is a significant portion that say it doesn't go far enough.  Do you think the political debate is advanced by making that number smaller?  Do you think people who are rejecting the legislation as not liberal enough are actually screwing up Obama's polls?  

    I guess you can argue that grassroots campaigning after the act was passed would've made it more popular, but I think once it passed everyone just wanted to put it to bed and move on.  I haven't seen anyone here trying to repeal the act that I don't already know as a conservative.


    First off, while we may listen to Krugman, (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 09:44:43 AM EST
    our minds are still operating, which means we don't take everything he says as if it were uttered by an oracle.  We take it under advisement, consider that there are other points of view, and go from there.  It may interest you to know that many of us felt that Krugman had been co-opted by Obama early on in the health whatever debate, such were his comments after his private lunch with Obama so discordant and inconsistent with the economics of health care, especially in light of the state of the overall economy.

    For many of us, the goal was not "passable legislation," it was putting together a package of legislation that would expand access to and affordability of health CARE.  While we now have the right to insurance, we still have to get past what is often a high financial hurdle before we ever obtain actual care - care that still comes with a cost in the form of deductibles and co-pays.  Congress handed the insurance industry a four-year head start on raising premiums and reducing coverage.  We effectively said to the industry, "we know you are, in large part, the reason health care is in such crisis in this country, but never fear - we're going to reward you for that."  

    Many of us were more focused on what would be best for our physical, mental and financial health than we were on the political fortunes of the president, and chafed at passing "something" in order for Obama to get a big political win.

    Back-room industry deals and meetings with the upper echelon of the industry hierarchy signaled that regardless of what Obama was out in public saying, he was doing his best to keep the industry happy - and that approach was never, ever going to result in the kind of reform that was actually needed.

    When Obama took single-payer off the table, and wouldn't even allow it to be discussed or debated, even Krugman should have known what kind of "reform" we were likely to get.  Just as the extension of unemployment insurance could have been done on a stand-alone basis, much of the little that is good about the ACA could also have been done on a stand-alone basis.  The giveaway to the wealthy on the tax cut deal is the same thing that was done in the giveaway to the insurance and pharmaceutical industry: in both cases there was never an attempt to even try to do what was right for us - they went straight to "compromises" that weighted the benefits heavily in favor of those who were already reaping them.

    We got "something," but when you have to be told it's better than nothing, it probably isn't all that good.


    This is a no heroes site (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:46:46 PM EST
    Frankly, if you read this post carefully, you may even notice a critique of Krugman.

    A 'no heroes site' may not cover (none / 0) (#9)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:56:34 AM EST
    the founder, though.

    Heroes are not what we need.  Clear-thinking, well-spoken leaders...just a few are what we need.


    Donald (none / 0) (#11)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:09:14 AM EST
    1. By liberal friends I was meaning those here who think that the legislation provided no significant benefits.  There are many here who believe that.

    2.  I use Obamacare because I don't see it as an insult.  It's good law. Obama signed it.  I want him to take full credit for it.  We need to change the fundamental thinking on HCR and that starts with not being afraid to own it.

    What about your insurance rates? (none / 0) (#12)
    by observed on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:59:48 AM EST
    amen (none / 0) (#16)
    by CST on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 09:56:36 AM EST
    People's lives are at stake here.  And while I appreciate that more would have been better, it's a lot easier to sit here and complain about health insurance when you can get it.


    "As many people obtain their insurance from an employer, there is naturally a moderate correlation between state unemployment rates and insurance rates. One of the main outliers in this respect is Massachusetts, which in 2006 passed a law both requiring most residents to obtain insurance and providing a state-regulated health insurance plan to certain low-income residents. Massachusetts has by far the lowest rate of uninsured citizens--5 percent--but a moderate unemployment rate of 8.2 percent. Other states with unemployment rates between 8 and 9 percent have far higher uninsured rates than Massachusetts, ranging from 12 percent to 26 percent."

    Hawaii is in second place at 8%.  Hope you can get yours too Donald.