Yet Another Shoddy Democratic Hack Job from Paul Krugman on ObamaCare
by Lambert Strether
I know, I know. Film at 11! But let us sorrowfully pull on our waders and look at Krugman’s latest. From the lead paragraph:
The current state of public opinion on health reform is really peculiar. If you’ve been following the issue at all closely, you know that the Affordable Care Act [ACA; ObamaCare] is one of the great comeback stories of public policy: after a terrible start, it has dramatically exceeded expectations. But hardly anyone seems to know that.
Let’s parse this out. Tellingly, Krugman conflates a public relations narrative (“comeback story”) with actual public policy success, and by what metric? ObamaCare “dramatically” (narrative again) “exceeded expectations.” What expectations? Whose expectations? Krugman does not yet say. Be that as it may, if “you’ve been following” electoral tactics “at all closely” over the years, you’ll recognize the hollow triumphalism of the expectations game successfully played. (In this case, the comeback was so extraordinarily successful that the coach, Sebelius, fell on her sword to protect the owner, Obama, by resigning to spend more time with her family, but never mind that.) And if “nobody knows,” it’s not because the Democratic nomenklatura hasn’tbeentaking not so much a victory lap, as a victory tongue bath.
So in the second paragraph comes the reveal: Krugman’s metric for success is signups; the famous lowballed 6 million that turned into 7 million and change. (Never mind the oddity of taking a metric from horse race journalism and applying it to health care policy; we’ll get to that.) And in some way this makes sense: Numbers are obviously important, as Krugman himself points out when critiquing the Ryan budget: “[P]eople who actually know how to read budget numbers weighed in, revealing it as a piece of mean-spirited junk.” The problem here is that the ObamaCare numbers are soft, as this blog has consistently pointed out, and about to get softer.