Thursday, January 15, 2015

Krugman: GOP Predictions Wrong On Obamacare, Economics, Climate

Whether the subject is Obamacare, economics or climate change, GOP predictions have been wrong, writes Paul Krugman. Even worse, the new Congress is run by Republicans who have no idea how wrong they've been–and are antagonistic toward anyone who points that out:

Consider, for example, how some Republicans dealt with good news about health reform. Before Obamacare went into effect, they overwhelmingly insisted that it would be a disaster, that more people would lose insurance than would gain it. They were, of course, delighted by the technical problems that initially crippled the program’s website. But those problems were fixed, and enrollment soared. Their response? “They are cooking the books,” declared Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who now leads the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

But that was then. At this point we have multiple independent confirmations — most recently from Gallup — that Obamacare has dramatically expanded insurance coverage. So what do they say now? The law “will collapse under its own weight,” says Representative Paul Ryan, the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Speaking of Mr. Ryan: Almost four years have passed since he and many others in his party lambasted Ben Bernanke, then the chairman of the Federal Reserve, for policies that they claimed would lead to high inflation and “debase the dollar.” The inflation never materialized, and the dollar proceeded to strengthen, but Mr. Ryan gave no sign of having been chastened — and many conservatives, including favorite intellectuals like Niall Ferguson of Harvard, became “inflation truthers,” insisting that the government is hiding price rises.

,,,Then there’s climate change. It appears that 2014 was the hottest year yet, which should close the door on silly claims that global warming has stopped. But it won’t matter to Senator James Inhofe, who now leads a crucial environmental committee and has long insisted that all the science in this field is a liberal hoax.

Now, everyone makes predictions that turn out to have been wrong; it’s a complicated world out there, and nobody’s perfect. The point, however, is that Congress is now controlled by men who never acknowledge error, let alone learn from their mistakes.

In some cases, they may not even know that they were wrong. After all, conservative news media are not exactly known for their balanced coverage; if your picture of how health reform is working is based on Fox News, you probably have a sense that it has been a vast disaster, even though the reality is one of success that has surprised even the law’s supporters.

The main point, however, is that we’re looking at a political subculture in which ideological tenets are simply not to be questioned, no matter what. Supply-side economics is valid no matter what actually happens to the economy, guaranteed health insurance must be a failure even if it’s working, and anyone who points out the troubling facts is ipso facto an enemy.

And we’re not talking about marginal figures. You sometimes hear claims that the old-fashioned Republican establishment is making a comeback, that Tea Party extremists are on the run and we can get back to bipartisan cooperation. But that is a fantasy. We can’t have meaningful cooperation when we can’t agree on reality, when even establishment figures in the Republican Party essentially believe that facts have a liberal bias.

2 comments:

Michael J. Mand said...

Krugman's essay was brilliant. Basically he points that the Republican tactic remains as follows: Bad economic news? It's Obama's fault; good news? It's in spite of Obama. "Thank heavens we Republicans are here to correct Obama's mistakes in time to save the nation from disaster."

Unrelated, but did you happen to read Kristof's column in which he alludes to being denounced by Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox? It seems to be a badge of honor.

Jeff Tone said...

I haven't but Kristof should indeed be proud.