Monday, January 18, 2016

Pandering to the Establishment

Paul Krugman panders to the status quo today, engaging in his usual method of misquoting the people who he doesn’t like and applying his implications masquerading as facts out of context. The accuses Bernie Sanders of dishonestly proposing a health care plan that is “mostly smoke and mirrors.”

He says that the plan will “impose large middle-class taxes,”  and that it “relies on the assumption of huge cost savings,”  and, “it involves a huge magic asterisk.”

As to the taxes, Sanders proposes a progressive addition to the income tax, with heavier hits on the rich, so there is nothing “middle class” about it. Further, that tax replaces insurance premiums, deductibles, copays, and costs which insurance companies presently do not pay for various reasons. So if I pay $6000 more in taxes and am relieved of the $13,000 that I paid in medical expenses last year, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

The savings do not consist of one or two undefined “huge savings,”  they are outlined in the plan and are entirely realistic; money spent by the insurance industry marketing and managing its plans and generating profits, for instance, and the cost to doctors and hospitals for billing. The plan would also seek deep discounts from the drug industry, which Obamacare doesn’t even attempt.

The main thrust of the Sanders plan is universal coverage, to which Krugman devotes no attention. His entire piece is devoted to debunking exaggerated claims as to cost savings; claims which Sanders has never made. He says that to “get costs down to, say, Canadian levels, we’d need to do what they do: say no to patients, telling them that they can’t always have the treatment they want.”

First, Sanders never claimed we could “get costs down to Canadian levels,”  and what’s more, in order to do so we would no more have to deny health care than Canada does. We would simply have to begin paying reasonable salaries to doctors who perform complex surgeries, say $200,000 per year instead of $20 million. We would have to pay $8 per pill for cancer treatment instead of $750 per pill. Etcetera.

The title of his piece today spells out where this nation has gone. We have gone from Jack Kennedy taking us to the moon with, “We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard,”  to Krugman surrendering to the death of universal health care with “health reform is hard.”

Sanders says that we can provide health care to everyone in this nation and spells out how we can afford to do it. Sanders is right. Krugman, Clinton, Obama and the rest of the moneyed establishment point out that providing universal health care should not be attempted because it would be hard to do and “too disruptive.”
They are wrong.

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