Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Zombies Against Medicare

Must-Read: this remarkable tendency to abandon policies that a party has been committed to that have worked well… In my view, the Republican Party could be taking two will-deserved victory laps (and one not so well-deserved right now):

  • The monetary policies of Republican Ben Bernanke gave the United States the best recovery from 2009 in the North Atlantic.
  • The RomneyCare health care policies of Republican Mitt Romney have been successfully implemented and driven extraordinary increases in access to health insurance.
  • The Republican Party’s drawing of a line in the sand in 2010–NO MORE MEDICARE CUTS!–Has strengthened and important 50-year-old part of America’s social fabric that works well.

Perhaps it is what the very sharp Rick Perlstein calls the “penumbras and emanations from Citizen’s United”. Never mind that the technocrats who staff Republican administrations and the voters like these policies, the billionaire moneybags do not–and it is the billionaire moneybags who count…

Paul Krugman: Zombies Against Medicare: “Medicare turns 50 this week…

…Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well. But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that… ‘We need to figure out a way to phase out this program’….

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle…. While raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money…. Raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains….

Conservatives want to do away with Medicare… [because] it’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful…. What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue… is that the program as we know it is unaffordable… that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs…. Now, this was always a dubious claim…. Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums….

And then a funny thing happened… [ObamaCare’s] passage was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth…. Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare…. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble…. Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good…. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

August 4, 2015

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