Paul Krugman's Selective Effigies


The New York Times columnist on Aug. 7:

Some commentators have tried to play down the mob aspect of these scenes, likening the campaign against health reform to the campaign against Social Security privatization back in 2005. But there's no comparison. I've gone through many news reports from 2005, and while anti-privatization activists were sometimes raucous and rude, I can't find any examples of congressmen shouted down, congressmen hanged in effigy, congressmen surrounded and followed by taunting crowds. […]

So this is something new and ugly.

Krugman today:

A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy.

Meanwhile, Krugman's page-mate David Brooks, in a Hamlet-style piece on health care reform, waxes positively Obamaesque about the bill's magic cost-effectiveness:

[T]hey are experimenting with dozens of gradual programs that might bend the cost curve.

If you've ever heard about it, it's in there — improved insurance exchanges, payment innovations, an independent commission to cap Medicare payment rates, an innovation center, comparative effectiveness research. There's at least a pilot program for every promising idea.

Italics mine. Here's a cost-saving reform I've heard of, that's not in there, because the president rejected it at the very beginning of this process: Place individuals on equal tax footing as employers when it comes to purchasing health insurance plans, so that we can transition from the post-WWII Company Man artifact of health-insurance-as-reward-for-employment, to a competition-spurring, cost-reducing model of individuals owning and shopping around for their own policies. In other words, markets, not mandates.

As Peter Suderman keeps pointing out, this plan doubles down on most everything that's bad with the current system. Pretending in the face of mounting evidence that this limping husk of a bill contains every bold reform idea there is might just be one reason why it's not very popular. At some point, people just stop believing you.