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Ron Radosh

The Dishonesty of Paul Krugman

January 16th, 2011 - 1:41 pm

Writing the week before, Brooks pointed out the many unintended consequences of the very health care program Krugman defends. First, Brooks notes the false cost projections that somehow did not work the way they were supposed to. He writes, “For example, New Hampshire’s plan has only about 80 members, but the state has already burned through nearly double the $650,000 that the federal government allotted to help run the program. If other projections are off by this much, the results will be disastrous.”

Next, he talks about what he calls “employee dumping,” in which favored unions and corporations are seeking and getting exemptions from the program, since they quickly learned that they were better off not being forced into the government health care program. “They induced poorer and sicker employees to move to public insurance exchanges, where subsidies are much higher,” and as a result, health care costs will double. The country will see what Brooks calls new quasi-monopolies, which will lead to less competition and no cost control.

Most shocking of all is Brooks’ citation of polls that show that many doctors — 60 per cent of those in private practice — will be forced to close their offices … or restrict their practices. That means many will not take new patients, will opt out of Medicare, or will move to concierge practice for the very well-off. No wonder, Brooks writes, that “people will blame the Obama law for everything they hate about the health care system.”

What Brooks realizes is that there are serious conservatives who are indeed going beyond merely calling for repeal of ObamaCare. Rather, they are offering serious alternatives about how to structure the health care system to make it more cost effective and to end current deficiencies and problems revolving around those who are uninsured without creating a bureaucratic monster in its place. These writers, some of whom Brooks cites, include James Capretta, Yuval Levin, Thomas Miller, Tevi Troy, Paul Howard, Stephen Parente and others. Just go to publications like National Affairs, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, and National Review and you will find many examples of serious articles about the real problems with the current Democratic and Obama administration program.

None of these conservatives dismiss the need to create a viable health care system, or only want a system that provides for the wealthy and lets everyone else suffer. Indeed, one of their basic arguments is that the proposed health care program will create a new two-tier system that benefits only the wealthy and makes access to doctors problematic for most everyone else.

As for the issue of the social safety net, another brilliant conservative commentator, William Voegeli, as I  pointed out a while ago, does not want to eliminate the entire welfare state edifice built up over the years. He writes: “The [Paul Ryan]roadmap will transform America’s social contract, enshrining the New Deal principle that the nation has a collective responsibility to alleviate and prevent poverty through government actions, while stipulating that these actions should be targeted and limited, replacing the open-ended, universal approach that defines New Deal and Great Society liberalism.”

If a writer like Krugman were to acknowledge that this is the conservative approach, it would immediately destroy his straw-man picture of heartless conservatives who want the majority of our countrymen to suffer. And it is Krugman and liberals like him who are demonizing opponents; not serious conservatives. And what he calls “eliminationist rhetoric encouraging violence” is not coming from these sources. Has he, for example, not heard of Chris Matthews saying on the air two years ago that “at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into [Rush Limbaugh’s] head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp”? This, I guess, does not count in Krugman’s world as eliminationist rhetoric, since by definition, it only comes from the conservative side. Indeed, on this point, Krugman is even worse than his colleague Frank Rich, who at least acknowledges today that “rhetoric can indeed be as violent on the left as on the right.”

Rich, of course, goes off the beam when he asserts that although Jared Lee Loughner had “no coherent ideological agenda,” he still thinks “antigovernment hysteria” had an effect on him and other “crazed loners out there.” In other words, Rich also blames the right. And Rich too asserts what he thinks as fact, when he actually has no evidence whatsoever about what words, if any, effected  Loughner. And Rich argues as well the violence proves the need for gun control. Does he not know that Giffords herself supported the Second Amendment, and actually owned a glock gun similar to that used by the man who tried to kill her? That truth, of course, does not fit into the scenario he and Krugman regularly paint.

So yes, civility and dialogue is necessary. But so is honesty. And that is something we can no longer expect from the liberal and left columnists at the New York Times.

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