Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Debunking the Debunker

Dean Baker writes a column called “Beat The Press,” in which he debunks articles written by other pundits and sets the records straight with what they would have said if they a) were not liars, b) did not have an agenda and/or c) were not stupid. He is not always polite about it and is frequently fun to read but, being an economist, he is fairly often full of shit himself.

Yesterday he set about correcting a column by David Brooks, which is usually fun, what with David Brooks being who he is, but he gets a little weird in the process. He cites a claim made by Brooks that, “the exchanges are disproportionately drawing lower-income people.” Actually, since the exchanges pick up a portion of the cost of insurance based on income, I believe that’s precisely what they are designed to do, but Dean Baker doesn’t go there.

Instead, he refutes Brooks by saying that, “Apparently Brooks did not realize that the ACA also requires that all insurers charge patients the same premium regardless of their health condition,” which is a masterpiece of non sequitur. He tries to strengthen what purports to be an argument by talking about health conditions a bit, and finishes that sick people now, “can get insurance at the same price as anyone else of the same age.”

“Non sequitur,” for those who don’t know, is Latin and loosely translates to, “What the hell does that have to do with what I just said?” Brooks is talking about people choosing the exchanges based on income and Baker “refutes” him by babbling about choosing the exchanges based on health condition.

In the comments it becomes somewhat more clear. Dean Baker was actually ignoring the Brooks comment about low income users of the exchanges and changing the subject to say, “Yeah, but Obamacare does some good things, too.” Typical economist, in that he can never admit that the other guy has made a valid point; when that happens he changes the subject.

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