I started reading Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times during the Bush-Cheney administration, and quickly came to respect him for his incisive and fearless criticism of the administration’s policies. He didn’t have any insider knowledge—just a willingness to look at the facts and state the obvious.
I don’t read his column regularly any more—partly because the New York Times has gone behind a pay wall and I’m not a subscriber.
Recently he wrote a long article entitled In Defense of Obama for Rolling Stone magazine, which, to me, is an example of how progressives have come to think of peace and prosperity as unattainable ideals.
I think it is worth discussing in some detail, but I first want to mention the way Krugman framed his argument. He wrote that “the left” did not get all it wanted, like somebody going to a restaurant and not finding everything they like on the menu.
For me, it is not a question of the degree to which you satisfy the desires of “the left” and “the right”. It is a question of whether the USA can halt its descent into authoritarianism, militarism and oligarchy before it is too late. Obama, in my opinion, has not done this. In my opinion, he has not even tried.
I know this language sounds exaggerated. I don’t think it is and, if you follow this web log, you will see the reasons why I think so.
Now, Krugman on health insurance reform and the Affordable Care Act.
We won’t have the full data on 2014 until next year’s census report, but multiple independent surveys show a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, probably around 10 million, a number certain to grow greatly over the next two years as more people realize that the program is available and penalties for failure to sign up increase.
It’s true that the Affordable Care Act will still leave millions of people in America uninsured. For one thing, it was never intended to cover undocumented immigrants, who are counted in standard measures of the uninsured. Furthermore, millions of low-income Americans will slip into the loophole [Chief Justice John] Roberts created: They were supposed to be covered by a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, but some states are blocking that expansion out of sheer spite.
Finally, unlike Social Security and Medicare, for which almost everyone is automatically eligible, Obamacare requires beneficiaries to prove their eligibility for Medicaid or choose and then pay for a subsidized private plan. Inevitably, some people will fall through the cracks.
Still, Obamacare means a huge improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans – not just better care, but greater financial security. And even those who were already insured have gained both security and freedom, because they now have a guarantee of coverage if they lose or change jobs.
What about the costs? Here, too, the news is better than anyone expected. In 2014, premiums on the insurance policies offered through the Obamacare exchanges were well below those originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office, and the available data indicates a mix of modest increases and actual reductions for 2015 – which is very good in a sector where premiums normally increase five percent or more each year. More broadly, overall health spending has slowed substantially, with the cost-control features of the ACA probably deserving some of the credit. [snip]