WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2015 — Economist and liberal commentator Paul Krugman has criticized the Republican presidential contenders who debated last week. In a Monday New York Times op-ed column, Krugman says the disasters that Republicans predicted for President Obama’s policies have not occurred. He said that’s why the candidates seemed so tongue-tied.
Krugman continues to be delusional.
He says of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that, while Republicans have predicted gloom and have tried to repeal the law numerous times, the law is a success; it has improved access to care for millions of Americans. He further notes that health insurance premiums are rising at a slower rate than in the past.
Because ACA is a success, the candidates did not discuss it during the debate. In his delusional world, success means helping about 15 percent of the population. What he fails to mention is that the other 85 percent of the population has seen mostly problems resulting in poorer quality care and higher prices. Did he think that 11 million Americans who could not afford to pay for their health insurance would get their subsidies with no cost to anyone else? Or did he just expect the wealthy to pay for the previously uninsured?
The vast majority of Americans now have higher deductibles, forcing them to forgo some needed tests. They pay higher premiums and have lost the ability to see physicians with whom they have a life-long relationship. Beginning in about two years, any American who has a high quality health insurance plan will be forced to pay a 40 percent tax on portions of the plan’s cost.
The ACA is good for a few but a disaster for most, which is why the law still has higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings.
Krugman notes that in the past year and a half, the economy has added an average of 237,000 jobs per month. This, he argues, is not the disaster that Republicans predicted when discussing Obama’s economic policy.
That figure is accurate, but we are now more than six years into the recovery, which is longer than the average expansion. The number of people employed is about 148 million. Prior to the recession there were just over 146 million people employed. Despite the most expansive monetary and fiscal policies in history, the number of people working is just over 1 percent more than before the recession began. The population has grown about 7 percent since the recession began.
Obama’s record on the economy is the worst of any president in modern history.
Krugman’s delusion continues when he says that the decrease in the unemployment rate was greater under Obama than it was under Reagan. He fails to mention that Obama’s rate is so low because millions of Americans have stopped looking for work. Obama made this easy when he increased unemployment compensation, increased the food stamp program, made it easier to collect welfare, and gave most unemployed people nearly free health care.
The labor force participation rate — the percent of adults who are working or seeking work — has fallen below 63 percent. During Reagan’s presidency, the rate was about 67 percent. On a comparable basis, Obama’s unemployment rate would be about 9 percent.
Krugman implies that the goal of economic policy should be to help the unfortunate, support the economy in hard times, regulate financial markets to prevent perceived injustices and limit pollution. Most economists would say that the primary goals of economic policy should be to stimulate economic growth, create full employment and provide price stability. Krugman’s goals are generally considered secondary.
Krugman says that during the two-hour debate, the candidates did not discuss specific plans to improve economic conditions. This was the initial debate when the candidate had six to 10 minutes to introduce himself and differentiate himself from the rest. In future debates there will be time for specific policy suggestions.
Krugman continues to see the world through the same rose-colored glasses as Obama. The Republicans are trying to look at the world realistically; they generally take the view that policy should be geared to benefit the majority of Americans while not infringing on the basic rights of anyone. Through Krugman’s delusional glasses, helping the unfortunate is more important than helping the majority.