01 Apr 2014

Krugman Wonders Why He’s the Only One Parroting Administration Talking Points on ObamaCare

Health Legislation, Krugman 39 Comments

Remember back on the day the Healthcare.gov website launched, that Krugman reported to his readers:

So, very early reports are that Obamacare exchanges are, as expected, having some technical glitches on the first day — maybe even a bit worse than expected, because it appears that volume has been much bigger than predicted.

Here’s what you need to know: this is good, not bad, news for the program….

The big fear has been that a combination of ignorance and misinformation would keep people away, that they wouldn’t sign up either because they didn’t know that insurance was now available, or because Republicans had convinced them that the program was the spawn of the devil, or something. Lots of people logging on and signing up on the very first day — a day when the Kamikaze Kongress is dominating the headlines — is an early indication that it’s going to be fine, that plenty of people will sign up for the first year of health reform. [Bold added.]

So obviously what happened here is that Krugman naively trusted some White House outlet, and foolishly repeated “facts” that were lies. I was watching Krugman’s blog pretty closely back then, and I never saw him apologize for this mistake, or even bother to change it in the original post. This, despite Krugman’s frequent compliments to himself and the NYT for the wonderful fact-checking process they use (in contrast to the shills who write for pro-Republican newspapers).

In that context, it’s pretty funny to now read Krugman complaining:

It’s not in itself that big a deal, but I’m somewhat amazed by what amounts to a de facto blackout by major news media on a developing story that’s really obvious if you read the invaluable Charles Gaba, or even the White House blog: a huge surge in Obamacare enrollments in the final days of the signup period.

Imagine that! People aren’t mindlessly repeating the ACA talking points put out by the Obama Administration. You know, the same group that told Americans they could keep their insurance, knowing full well this was a lie.

And in case you don’t know who the “invaluable Charles Gaba” is, here’s one of his recent posts, which should give you an idea of his objective hunt for the truth regarding enrollments under the Affordable Care Act:

“Outstanding Numbers” has two meanings: The first, of course, is that in spite of everything–the terrible website launch of HC.gov and some of the state sites; the still-terrible status of some of the state sites even now; the actively-hostile opposition and obstructive actions in certain states, the negative spin on every development by some in the news media–in spite of all of this, over 7 million people nationwide enrolled in private, ACA-compliant healthcare plans between 12:01am on 10/1/13 and 11:59pm on 3/31/14…slightly surpassing the original CBO projection for that period.

There’s the usual discussions about “But how many have PAID???”, “But how many were ALREADY INSURED???”, “How many were YOUNG???” and “What METAL LEVEL did they get???” etc etc etc. All of these are reasonable questions for actuaries, accountants and so forth to ask, and the answers will indeed help shape our understanding of what the overall economic and health impact of the law will be.

For the moment, however, none of that matters. This is an outstanding number any way you slice it.

Man, this guy holds his cards close to his chest, doesn’t he? I think he might have voted for Romney, but I’m not really sure. I can see why Krugman is upset that this guy hasn’t become a go-to source for objective reporting on ACA enrollments.

39 Responses to “Krugman Wonders Why He’s the Only One Parroting Administration Talking Points on ObamaCare”

  1. andrew' says:

    Who decided 7 million? I have no idea why I should care about that number. What is this ” signup period” they speak of?

    • andrew' says:

      Maybe Krugman is feeling forgiving because this seemingly irrelevant boondoggle Obama chose to pursue during a depression was promised to save the economy. It should kick in any minute now. Can’t wait. It’s gonna be awesome. It is going to be interesting to see how a seemingly irrelevant boondoggle fixes debt and trade imbalances and tbtf and energy and falling labor participation and a perverse national defense system. Let alone the soon-to-commence precipitous drop in healthcare costs! You’ll be sorry you obstructed it Bob. Especially those bad vibes. You know the ones I’m talking about. You know.

      • Tel says:

        Just one really big broken window.

        • andrew' says:

          Oh, you mean like Krugman joking about needing a world war like how he joked about needing a housing bubble?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            They’re always jokes when looking back they were stupid comments, right?

            Krugman was not joking about wanting a housing bubble for example. He went on a Spanish news channel for example, and made it clear he wasn’t joking.

            It follows from his economic ideology, by the way.

            • Cosmo Kramer says:

              Got a link to that Spanish tv thing?

          • Cosmo Kramer says:

            Alien invasion.

            • andrew' says:

              Obama is cigarette smoking man?

  2. guest says:

    You have a really good memory.

  3. Gamble says:

    Somebody was asking Obama if enough young people had signed up to pay for this. Obama mumbled.

    How can young people pay for this, when their rates are the lowest, usually subsidized and many young people tend to have sports injury’s and other health care cost related to carelessness?

    I don’t believe young people can pay for anything. If anything, this ACA will encourage young people to take up more skiing, intravenous drug use and unprotected sex.

    for 50 bucks a month, I am taken care of, party like its 1999…

  4. GabbyD says:

    So, in the very first days of the website, has it been shown that demand had nothing to do with it?

  5. joe says:

    Krugman does not realize that if you got rid of govt then everyone could afford health care (not that they would need it because if you get rid of govt then all the social ills go away including cancer).

    • Major_Freedom says:

      You forgot government brainwashing…

      And absence of self-responsibility to think.

    • Dyspeptic says:

      Good grief, what a lame sarcasm. Who ever said that anarcho-capitalism results in the abolition of “all the social ills”. Not Von Mises, not Hayek, not Rothbard, not anyone I can think of. Please stop projecting your desire for utopia on others.

      Leftists/Collectivists/Statists are actually far more likely to believe in utopian nonsense than libertarians. We just want the man behind the curtain to stop lying to us, stealing from us and murdering us with impunity. We leave the wacky heaven-on-earth scenarios to you State worshippers.

      • Cosmo Kramer says:

        The funny thing is that Joe (Jerry Wolfgang) thinks he is making a valid point. He makes the SAME exact comment and then disappears until RPM posts again. What a coward.

    • Andrew' says:

      “if you got rid of govt then everyone could afford health care”

      The second part of the comment is dumb, but this part is very close to correct.

      Nearly all of the government subsidy that has been funneled into healthcare has correlated nearly 1-to-1 with spending increases. YMMV, but that means that throwing money at a supply-constrained service results in price increases- just like in, say, government higher education lotteries.

      Note the chart below which shows all the growth in spending is not the part where people could afford themselves.

      Secondly, all this time the government has subsidized research into novel treatments of things like cancer, they have underfunded effectiveness research. So, they have created additional demand by subsidizing Hail Mary type end-of-life miracle treatments without much in the way of evaluating cost-effectiveness, not to mention reducing aging, improving nutrition, prevention, etc.

      Third, back to the issue at hand, as Warren Buffett has said, you can always sell an insurance policy. The question is “should you?”

      • Andrew' says:

        Here is what joe should have said:

        “About all the stuff I’ve posted for the last year…APRIL FOOLS!!!”

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I saw a TV ad today for a “two-for-one” sale on plastic surgery: A boob job and tummy tuck for the price of one. No joke.

      That’s just terrible and it’s all the fault of an almost free marked, a lack of government and insurance subsidies and competition.

  6. John says:

    I’m not sure I’m following this discussion. The gravamen of Krugman’s point was that about the number of people the administration wanted to sign up for insurance by the end of the year would sign up. That’s essentially what happened. That doesn’t mean everything’s just fine with the program, as everyone has pointed out. It just means the administration and Krugman were more or less right about the number of sign ups.

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      Yeah, I don’t think Bob framed this post in the best way. It seems his main complaint is that Krugman is referring to obviously biased sources in an attempt to prove how right he was. Which is kinda crummy, but at the same time, something that virtually everyone in the media does these days. Hardly unique to Krugman.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Matt M wrote:

        It seems his main complaint is that Krugman is referring to obviously biased sources in an attempt to prove how right he was.

        No, my complaint is that Krugman is wondering why the media aren’t running stories based on what is posted at WhiteHouse.gov.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          But they are, aren’t they? I mean maybe not referencing the whitehouse.gov blog, but they’re certainly running stories that go something like: “White House claims Obamcare enrollment exceeded CBO projections.”

          When has the mainstream media ever been skeptical of government claims? (Well, besides when a Republican is in office)

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Well OK, but then that just makes Krugman’s post even more ridiculous. Like saying, “Why isn’t the US military bombing some innocent civilians? I don’t get it.”

            • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

              Well that’s why we have the left/right spectrum! If you want someone complaining about how the military isn’t interventionist enough, just tune in Sean Hannity!

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Am I counted as one of those happy and satisfied folks with insurance since my $122/month $5,000 deductible health insurance in 2008 (but which was up to $195 per month* in 2013) is now $255 per month with a $13,000 deductible?

    *Inflation? What inflation?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      We can say to 200 million individuals paying more that they are a rare exception.

      Look over there! Jim Bob is paying less! Haha!

    • Andrew' says:

      On the bright side, you might hit your deductible that much faster!

  8. Bogart says:

    The most important number is not given which is the number of folks who signed up for this mess because they had their policies cancelled by their current insurers. I bet that that number is well above 40% of the total.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Good point.

    • John Becker says:

      I second what you said Bogart. I repeated your point by mistake below.

    • guest says:

      … because they had their policies cancelled by their current insurers.

      And that was the actual goal.

      Howard Dean didn’t admit that such was the goal, but he did say that it would be a good thing for it to happen:

      Howard Dean: Small businesses to ‘dump’ employees onto exchanges

      Of course, the particular employer based health care coverage we have isn’t a free market health care system:

      The Relentless Process of Socializing Health Care

      Of course, regulation in the American economy has not become comprehensive, but we can see that it is spreading. The federal government granted a subsidy to American businesses by making employer-funded health insurance tax deductible. Health benefits are a tax dodge. If health care benefits were included as taxable income, then American employers would have no clear advantage to providing their employees with health insurance. Since federal tax law allows employers and their employees to avoid IRS and payroll taxes, there is an advantage in offering health benefits along with salaries, instead of offering no benefits with increased salaries. Seventy percent of American workers have employer-paid insurance. DeLoach and Platania are probably right about how the current system of employer-paid insurance creates some perverse incentives, but they ignore the role of government in subsidizing the employer-paid insurance system.

      The federal government promotes employer-paid insurance in other ways. Were it not for the current level of federal payroll and income taxes, there would be little gain to entrepreneurs from offering insurance to their employees. If the Congress were to begin cutting unnecessary and wasteful spending, we might be able to see significant reductions in income tax rates some time in the not-too-distant future. Also, the payroll taxes created by Medicare and Social Security definitely cause “distortions” in the economy. Past federal interventions set the stage for the “distortions” that DeLoach and Platania blame on employer-funded insurance.

      100 Years of US Medical Fascism

      This only leaves the mystery of how health insurance became attached to employment. The answer is found two decades before Medicare and Medicaid. Wage and price controls the federal government enacted during World War II prevented large employers from competing for labor based on wage rates, so they competed based on the quality of benefits. The most effective benefit for luring labor to large employers was generous health-insurance policies.

      The decision by the federal government to allow large-employer benefits to be obtained tax-free while effectively taxing plans purchased by small businesses and the self-employed created a system where medical insurance became not only perversely tied to the size of a worker’s employer but to employment itself. The price of health insurance for many self-employed workers and small businesses became unaffordable.

      By the way, I found this resource on Mises.org, and one of the commenters mentioned is someone called “Bogart”:

      Curing Virulent Health Care Myths in the LvMI Forum

  9. Dyspeptic says:

    “It just means the administration and Krugman were more or less right about the number of sign ups.”

    Maybe I’m just a hardened cynic, but how do we know what the actual number of sign up’s is? For that matter the whole business of “sign up’s” is a misdirect because enrollment is the real issue of the moment and that requires paying for a plan, not just choosing one (or even just starting the online process).

    So far as I can tell we are being asked to take at face value whatever spin the current regime finds politically convenient. Was there ever any doubt that they would claim to have reached their goal of 7 million sign ups, especially in an election year? What independent person or agency would be in a position to authoritatively prove/disprove this number?

    Krugman is a polemicist, a leftwing ideologue and a partisan hack precisely because he takes on faith that the current regime’s spin is reliably factual and trustworthy. He wants it to be true, therefore it must be true. Even a minimally skeptical person would be suspicious given this administrations track record and the mendacious behavior of politicians in general. Yet The Krugster swallows the Kool-Aid in huge gulps and licks his lips with smug satisfaction. It’s rather comical in a pathetic sort of way.

  10. John Becker says:

    No one seems to mention how many of the people who signed up (among the 7 million) signed up because they lost insurance they liked better in the first place. Ridiculous.

    • Andrew' says:

      Some of the other ones are scared of being fined, of course, whatever the actual status of the fine.

      And it is a CBO projection. Was it ever a goal?

      And yes, the gross signups is not important- at least maybe not important in a good way. The important thing is the fraction of paying customers, even on ACA’s own (perverse) terms.

  11. Ken B says:

    “That’s the problem with media coverage of Obamacare: so wildly innacurate. And such small portions.”

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