Paul Krugman Blasts Right-Wing 'Truthers' Who Refuse to Admit They Were Wrong . . . About Anything


"Truthers" is a word that has come to mean its exact opposite, describing groups of people, generally nutcases, who dig deeper into denial the more evidence mounts to show their claims are wrong. Paul Krugman sees more and more "trutherism" in the right-wing flank of American politics these days, and it is having a pernicious effect on the country.

Krugman begins his Monday column:

Imagine yourself as a regular commentator on public affairs — maybe a paid pundit, maybe an supposed expert in some area, maybe just an opinionated billionaire. You weigh in on a major policy initiative that’s about to happen, making strong predictions of disaster. The Obama stimulus, you declare, will cause soaring interest rates; the Fed’s bond purchases will “debase the dollar” and cause high inflation; the Affordable Care Act will collapse in a vicious circle of declining enrollment and surging costs.

But nothing you predicted actually comes to pass. What do you do?

You might admit that you were wrong, and try to figure out why. But almost nobody does that; we live in an age of unacknowledged error.

Another way to go is insisting on a grand conspiracy against you. That's a popular one, claimed by both “inflation truthers,” and Obamacare truthers, who continue to insist the White House is "cooking the books."

Lastly, says Krugman, you can just deny you ever said the thing that proved to be so wrong. And for some reason, people do this and get away with it.

Krugman delves into the example of Obamacare. Evidence is mounting that this is one of the bigger policy successes of the past few decades, with none of the predictions of doom, like “rate shock,” or skyrocketing premiums, or a “death spiral”, the view that only very sick people would sign up,  or budget-busting costs coming true. Here's what really happened, according to Krugman:

There was no rate shock: average premiums in 2014 were about 16 percent lower than projected. There is no death spiral: On average, premiums for 2015 are between 2 and 4 percent higher than in 2014, which is a much slower rate of increase than the historical norm. The number of Americans without health insurance has fallen by around 15 million, and would have fallen substantially more if so many Republican-controlled states weren’t blocking the expansion of Medicaid. And the overall cost of the program is coming in well below expectations.

He also cites a recent survey showing that new enrollees are happy with their plans under Obamacare. 

Curses! Those Republicans and other right-leaning pundits who said it would never work must really be kicking themselves.

Or not.

The reason is that ideas driven by ideology stand firm. For Krugman, as ridiculous as this problem is, it is also a moral failing. "Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life," he concludes. "It rises to the level of real wrongdoing when policies that affect millions of lives are at stake."

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