News & Politics

Paul Krugman: Republicans Simply Want to Hurt People

The GOP has made further impoverishing the poor a part of its platform.

Paul Krugman
Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

In the past week alone, the Trump administration has announced it will end protection for 200,000 Salvadorans currently residing in the U.S. and signaled it would allow states to enforce work requirements for Medicaid recipients. And that was before Donald Trump reportedly questioned why the U.S. is accepting immigrants from "shithole countries" during a bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office (The president has since denied using that language, although Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) insists that's what he said.)

For the New York Times' Paul Krugman, it's all of a piece for a GOP that wants to hurt people, specifically those from poor families.

In his Friday column, he examines three policy positions that seem to confirm sadism has become part of the Republican platform. The first is the party's refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which should have been a "no-brainer" for every state. But eight years after the legislation's passage, 18 have refused, "all of them with Republican-controlled legislatures, governors or both."

"For a while you could argue that it was about cynical political strategy: Medicaid expansion was a policy of Barack Obama, and Republicans didn’t want to give a Democratic president any policy successes," he writes. "But that story can’t explain states’ continuing resistance to the idea of providing health coverage to thousands of their own citizens at minimal cost. No, at this point it’s clear that G.O.P. politicians simply don’t want lower-income families to have access to health care and are actually willing to hurt their own states’ economies to deny them that access."

Then there's the Republican cry to impose aforementioned work requirements on Medicaid recipients, which has only grown more shrill since Trump assumed office. As Krugman explains, 10 of the states exploring such measures have accepted Medicaid expansions, so they gain nothing by booting people off their rolls. Ultimately, their motivations are as simple as they are vicious.

"It’s about stigmatizing those who receive government aid, forcing them to jump through hoops to prove their neediness," he notes. "Again, the pain is the point."

Lastly, and most appallingly, there are the millions of children who stand to lose their coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program if Congress refuses to reauthorize CHIP's funding. Krugman notes that a 10-year extension would ultimately save the government $6 billion in related health care costs, but few if anyone in the Republican Party seems to care. 

"Republican foot-dragging on CHIP, like opposition to Medicaid expansion and the demand for work requirements, isn’t about the money, it’s about the cruelty," he closes. "Making lower-income Americans worse off has become a goal in itself for the modern G.O.P., a goal the party is actually willing to spend money and increase deficits to achieve."

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.