Must-Read:Paul Krugman: Who Ate Republicans’ Brains?

Must-Read: And where was the phalanx of Republican health care experts united in condemnation of the McConnell approach? If you didn’t sign a public letter calling for a very different process, why should you have standing to participate in any future reality-based policy debate? Just asking:

Paul Krugman: Who Ate Republicans’ Brains?: “Senator Lindsey Graham was entirely correct when he described the final effort at repeal as ‘terrible policy and horrible politics’, a ‘disaster’ and a ‘fraud’. He voted for it anyway…

…and so did 48 of his colleagues… caught in their own web of lies. They fought against the idea of universal coverage… denounced the Affordable Care Act for failing to cover enough people; they made “skin in the game,” i.e., high out-of-pocket costs, the centerpiece… then denounced… high deductibles….

But the stark dishonesty of the Republican jihad against Obamacare itself demands an explanation. For it went well beyond normal political spin: for seven years a whole party kept insisting that black was white and up was down. And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago…. A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority—so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying—or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth….

Looking back, it’s easy to see the rot spreading. Compared with Donald Trump, the elder Bush looks like a paragon—but his administration lied relentlessly about rising inequality. His son’s administration lied consistently about its tax cuts, pretending that they were targeted on the middle class…. Given this history, the Republican health care disaster was entirely predictable…. And let’s be clear: we’re talking about Republicans here, not the “political system.”… Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.

July 31, 2017


Brad DeLong
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