Paul Krugman Reveals the Cynical Reason that Even Democrats Are Trashing Health Reform

Seriously? That is Paul Krugman's sarcastic question for Charles Schumer in the wake of the New York's senior Senator's recent remarks criticizing the president for making health reform a prioritiy of his administration. It's one thing when the criticism comes from the Republicans, who are rooting for the Supreme Court to overturn or seriously undermine Obamacare based on a typo, but from a Democrat. WTF? 

In his Friday column, Krugman dismantles Schumer's argument that Obamacare was not a good move. The main problem (for Schumer) seems to be that while the policy has demonstrably helped millions of Americans, including making it so they can leave jobs they hate and are no longer tied to purely because of health insurance benefits, it has not been a political "win" for Democrats.


The Schumer critique — he certainly isn’t the first to say these things, but he is the most prominent Democrat to say them — calls health reform a mistake because it only benefits a minority of Americans, and that’s not enough to win elections. What President Obama should have done, claims Mr. Schumer, was focus on improving the economy as a whole.

This is deeply wrongheaded in at least three ways.

First, while it’s true that most Americans have insurance through Medicare, Medicaid, and employment-based coverage, that doesn’t mean that only the current uninsured benefit from a program that guarantees affordable care. Maybe you have good coverage now, but what happens if you’re fired, or your employer goes bust, or it cancels its insurance program? What if you want to change jobs for whatever reason, but can’t find a new job that comes with insurance?

Second, whenever someone says that Mr. Obama should have focused on the economy, my question is, what do you mean by that? Should he have tried for a bigger stimulus? I’d say yes, but that fight took place in the very first months of his administration, before the push for health reform got underway. After that, and especially after 2010, scorched-earth Republican opposition killed just about every economic policy he proposed. Do you think this would have been different without health reform? Seriously?

As Krugman points out, just having the President declare that he is focused on the economy does not make a whole lot of difference in people's lives. And, after all, at least supposedly, winning elections is about doing some good for people, rather than just running for re-election. This seems to be a principle from which politicians of both parties have strayed pretty far. "In 2009-10, Democrats had their first chance in a generation to do what we should have done three generations ago, and ensure adequate health care for all of our citizens," Krugman writes. "It would have been incredibly cynical not to have seized that opportunity, and Democrats should be celebrating the fact that they did the right thing."

Apparently, Schumer, and a whole lot of other Democrats who lost their midterm elections while fleeing Obama and Obamacare, do not get that. At all.


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