Obamacare

Paul Krugman's Selective Effigies

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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.

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  1. Is Matt talking about giving everyone the tax cut employers get or getting rid of the tax cut for employers, because the latter seems like an odd libertarian proposal to me…

    1. I can’t speak for the author, but:

      Place individuals on equal tax footing as employers when it comes to purchasing health insurance plans

      sounds like allowing health insurance to be an above-the-line-deduction (a direct reduction of gross income without AGI limits or itemized deduction limits and phaseouts). Which would be the same tax treatment that entities get on their returns.

    2. not really – the tax cut for employers does little more than shift expenses from people who have jobs to those who do not. In another sense, either of your two options are functionally equivilent in the long run, since then at least, everyone would be on the same footing regardless of employment status.

      1. Not really – it doesn’t change at all the benefit received by employees (those with jobs) the current situation is both a tax cut for employers & employees (generally employees would include the benefit as part of the income and be taxed on it – as with all other benefits – in this instance this benefit is not included in taxable income).

        Granting the same benefit to those who pay for their own insurance means that they would be allowed to deduct the medical insurance premiums from their taxable income, thereby reducing their tax liability (i.e. generally a tax cut for the poor).

    3. Since the fundamental reason for high health care costs is that the US as a society is overinsured, I would like to see employee health benefits provided in lieu of wages to be taxed as wages.

      Unfortunately, after 60 years of the opposite, such a move would not only be massively disruptive, but it would also give Congress a windfall that it surely wouldn’t use to pay down the deficit.

      So I would say start by making all health expenses by employer or individual deductible, and then phase the deduction out over a number of years.

      1. So you’d like to see a massive increase intaxes. Just want to be clear about that.

        1. to be fair, he didnt say that – MikeP is basically saying health benefits would be taxed as wages, when paid by another person, but health expenditures would be tax deductible. assuming most people pay some of their total expenditures out of pocket in post tax dollars – this would actually result in a tax decrease.

        2. Yes, this…

          Unfortunately, … such a move would … give Congress a windfall that it surely wouldn’t use to pay down the deficit.

          …means I clearly would like to see a massive increase in taxes.

          What I would like to see is less use of the tax code to distort people’s free choices. One would presume that as hundreds of billions of dollars becomes newly taxable in phases, other tax levels would go down. Applying the new taxes without lowering other taxes is very obvious.

          1. One would presume that as hundreds of billions of dollars becomes newly taxable in phases, other tax levels would go down.

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

            You’re killing me, Mike, really. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read this morning.

        3. MNG,

          no. that’s disingenuous, and I think you know it;

          Mikep is willing to accept massive tax increases as a cost to reduce one of the major drivers making healthcare unaffordable to the poor.

      2. uh oh – unintended consequences alert – do that, and we will have people screaming over whether their neighbors nosejob/abortion should get a tax break.

        1. Whatever an employer can provide to an employee tax free, an individual can purchase tax free.

          1. after writing my 8:40 post – i realized the meat of what you are proposing – thus my response to MNG above.

            1. domo
              It’s likely I’m missing something, but if health benefits can be deducted, but then we change that so that they are “taxed the same as wages” then that would mean more taxes on health benefits, right? Is the idea that the increase there will be offset by deductions for health expenditures?

              1. yeah – currently the employer spends 1000 to give you healthcare. The individual gets 1000 benefit tax free and pays some out of pocket in after tax money. Under MikeP system as I understand it, they would give you 1000 in benefits, you would to pay taxes on those premiums to the extent that the employer pays them, but your overall expenditures INCLUDING whatever you pay as premiums would be deductible. So if the employer still bothered to pay 1000 in premiums for you, you would pay taxes on it, but you would also deduct it. in otherwords there would be no point for employers to provide that benefit.

                1. domo, you need to talk to tarran above, he seems to think it will lead to massive tax increases too.

                2. Whether health care expenses should be deductible or not is a completely separate issue from whether employers should be able to take such a deduction while individuals can’t.

                  In the long run, I think we are better off if there are no such deductions. But the benefits of that are peanuts compared to the distortions caused by the fact that health care costs half as much when your employer provides it as when you provide it.

                  Indeed, if we are hypothesizing that Congress will take the windfall and just do more government stuff with it, then I would rather leave the deduction.

                  1. “In the long run, I think we are better off if there are no such deductions”

                    Less deductions would mean more money taxed. Right domo?

                    1. It appears that domoarrigato misconstrued my desired endpoint.

                      So everyone knows, here is my preference ordering, from best to worst among the options listed:

                      1. No tax deductions for any health expenses by anyone. Congress makes sure the change results in no more total revenue.
                      2. All health expenses tax deductible by anyone.
                      3. What we have today.
                      4. No tax deductions for any health expenses. Congress goes on a spending binge.

                      I have to admit, even here 3 is so bad that 4 might not actually be worse.

                    2. Yeas, however, my desired endpoint doesnt necessarily agree with MikeP’s. We diverge when he wants to phase out all deductions. At that point, his path leads to massive tax increases, whereas mine does not.

                    3. ie. he prefers #1 over #2, whereas I have them reversed.

          2. “phase the deduction out over a number of years”

            Phasing out the deduction would mean more paid in taxes, right?

            1. Stop being a dick. All you want is to crow about a libertarian wanting to raise taxes.

              It’s about removing a subsidy that is severely distorting the health care industry.

              If Obama were serious about leveling the playing field, get rid of that market-distorting tax break and then make all health expenditures an above-the-line tax write-off.

              If affordable health care is such a priority, why is the government taxing it so heavily?

              1. “It’s about removing a subsidy that is severely distorting the health care industry.”

                The subsidy you are talking about is a tax deduction. Eliminating a tax deduction is…

                “If affordable health care is such a priority, why is the government taxing it so heavily?”

                So we should address that by chucking a tax deduction? OK…

                1. Once more.

                  The tax deduction should be taken from employers and given to individuals. And it should be combined with a tax deduction on ALL medical expenses. That will be a much lower tax burden for individuals, while shifting the tax burden on corporations higher (which they will mitigate buy dropping the more lavish medical benefit plans) it will mean lower taxes for everyone who spends any money whatsoever on health care.

                  Your po-faced concern for corporate tax rates is not fooling anyone.

                  1. If the Democrats were really concerned about covering the uninsured, all they would have to do is extend Medicaid.

                    But, they aren’t doing that, instead they are coming up with a contraption that would confound Rube Goldberg and crow about it being some kind of reform when all it does is take all of the bad of the current system and add shitloads of new bad pulled directly from their lobbyist’s asses.

                    If they were really serious, they would put forth a Mackey-esque plan, but we all know that providing health insurance is only the tool and not the end result they want to achieve. This is a 10-year business plan for the DNC.

    4. My proposal is to remove the employer tax deduction for providing health insurance, and simultaneously require those employers to bumb their employees wages to match (if they stop insuring).

      That could be seen as a “tax increase” on employers, but it’s a one time measure to end employer-based insurance with a minimum of disruption.

  2. Save a noose for David Brooks’ effigy.

  3. Italics mine.

    But there aren’t any italics. Far out, man. I get it.

  4. Why am I not shocked that the NY Times “conservative” believes in his heart that government has the solutions. Unbelievable stupidity.

    1. James
      Conservatism is a bigger tent than you might think, Brooks is certainly not the only conservative intellectual to propose significant government action…

      1. He’s not a conservative by any definition other than his own and those of people who don’t like conservatism.

    2. David Brooks is W with fancy words.

      Whatever

    3. If you read Brooks’ entire article you would know that at the end he says he does not support the current senate healthcare bill.

  5. There’s a couple of things people are concerned about re health care. Some people are concerned about costs, and Matt’s suggestion sounds like it could address that: if people “feel” the true costs prices may come down.

    But another concern people have involves people being unable to get insurance. Now, by lowering prices in theory Matt’s proposal would make insurance easier for many to get. But there will still be people who are simply a very bad risk for insurance companies to take on, for these people costs will be high. I don’t see any market solution to that problem.

    1. The shockingly high and ongoing cost of a public plan isn’t created by the uninsurable. It’s the people who can afford insurance (people who make too much for Medicaid) being publicly supported that is the crazy part.

      The true hard luck cases could be allowed to enroll in Medicaid. This would cost far less and be much less disruptive to the 59% of people who are perfectly happy with the bloated quasi-insurance plans they have now.

      1. So you recognize that some people will be left out of any market solution and support the idea the government needs to step in there.

        1. Nope. What I recognize is that the heavy distortions by the government of the health care industry over the lest 70 years has broken it so severely that market solutions have become non-viable.

          Since there is not going to be the sort of radical restructuring of the insurance and health care industry to bring market forces back to bear, then solve the problem the government created with the less-bad government solution.

          Socialized health care is the nuclear option to help the small amount of hard luck cases. It’s burning down a house to kill a mouse.

          And I’m not against a basic social safety-net and never have been. But a net is to catch you when you fall, not a nest to raise three generations of kids in.

          1. Even if you took away all of the damage to healthcare done over the last 70 years by the government, there still would be problems. Since healthcare is often life or death, the demand curve is out of whack. And the supply curve can be out of whack for rare conditions. Some conditions just are not common enough to make it profitable to treat them.

            Healthcare is about more than economics. You have to have a strong civil society. You are absolutely right that a free market system is always going to have hard luck cases. The answer is a civil society that helps those people and a society at large that has values enough not to abuse the privilage.

            1. I don’t know about that. It’s the government subsidy of employer based insurance that really fucked everything up. Without it, I doubt insurance would have evolved in to pre-paid health care plans (the real problem) because they would have been to exoensive to fund with after-tax dollars for the individual. (How many pre-paid maintenance plans for cars get sold in a year?) People would have still been buying actual insurance, keeping the cost down. People would still have been paying out of pocket for all routine care. There would have been a much less destructive hockey stick to the third party payer problem.

              It wouldn’t have been a paradise, but then that’s what a basic social safety net is for.

              1. Look SF, let’s be clear, I’m not sure I disagree with you on this point: a safety net is not for people who just don’t want to do anything for themselves or for extended periods of time, it’s for rare emergency situations.

                Having said that I think we need government for that net. We tried hoping on private charity and found that wanting.

                1. When have I said that the basic social safety net I support is a function of private charity?

                  Once again, there are a mixture of libertarians and anarcho-capitalists on the board. Conflating the two is disingenuous.

                  I’m fine with paying taxes to a properly limited government for the impartial disbursal of funds to act in the manner of a social safety net.

                  But I disagree with forcing anyone else to contribute.

                  1. people should pay taxes to a limited gov but noone should be forced to pay those taxes? wtf?

                    1. Yes. Taxes should be voluntary and paid for or agreed to with meaningful consent.

                      If the service the government provides is truly worth it, people will pay for it.

                      I might support some sort of mandatory taxes for certain services of benefit to everyone. A small military, a limited and ruthlessly oversighted police force, a hard-to-abuse court system for settling disputes.

                      But any sort redistributionism would be voluntary.

                    2. So your safety net would just be charity (that’s all a “voluntary tax run program” would be).

                      See all comments addressing adequacy of just charity, including Hayek’s, below.

                    3. Redistributionism is theft.

                      I don’t support theft.

                      The greatest asset of contributing to the government would its impartiality. It would do fine in the marketplace of ideas.

                      The safety net costs very little, the nest is what is expensive.

                      I’d give a whole lot more to, say, Doctors Without Borders, if the Feds didn’t drain 13K off of me every year to piss away on wars and market-destroying social programs.

                2. “We tried hoping on private charity and found that wanting.”

                  Really? Implying that the “Hoping on private charity” existed prior to any federal system? When did this attempt occur? How well documented is the “wanting” that was found?

              2. See my post below. I don’t think it is that obvious that people would cut back on their insurance coverage if it came out of pocket. People are risk averse. Getting sick is a lot different and a lot worse than your care breaking down. You can’t compare auto repair insurance to medical insurance. The stakes are far too high in the latter for it to be a legitimate comparison.

                1. John, I’m not comparing the two. I’m comparing the false health “insurance” that is really a pre-paid health care plan.

                  Almost nothing that happens to me is an unforeseen “accident” or “emergency.” That my routine and completely known future health care maintenance costs are paid for by my “insurance” means that it’s no such thing. And that is a massive distortion to cost via the third party payer problem.

                  A quick example. In Kentucky you can buy certain types of insulin over the counter. When I didn’t have insurance and saw a doctor only when I was sick, I would buy insulin out of pocket. Here at the university, we have a clinic that sells most medication at cost. A bottle of insulin costs me about $8. Recently, on vacation, I broke a bottle of insulin and had to get one at a pharmacy. Louisiana made me transfer my script, but I couldn’t charge the bottle to my work insurance.

                  The bottle cost me $128 dollars.

                  The extra cost is the premium that the third party payer problem put on it. If everyone was paying out of pocket, that bottle of insulin would be priced far, far closer to $8 than $128.

      2. What happens when you create a public plan is the insurance companies immediately dumb you on that plan. That is what has happened with medicare. When you turn 65, you have to go on medicare. Once you do that, your private insurance becomes a Medicare supplement. That then allows companies to dumb their retirees on medicare and stick the feds with the bill. That is why medicare costs are bankrupting us. People who have the money to pay for their own insurance and in fact did by working their whole lives for insurance when they retired, are having the federal government pay for their healthcare. Medicare is really more corporate welfare than anything else.

    2. There isn’t an easy sollution for those people. You could socialize medicine and solve their problems but create a million others that are much worse. I think the answer lies in charity hospitals for people that do not have insurance and can’t pay. And it lies in the bankruptcy system. When people go in massive debt over medical bills, we ought to have a system where by they pay what the can and it is painful. That way people have an incentive to get insurance. But, we also ought to insure that people still get treatment and don’t have their lives ruined by getting sick. It is never going to be a perfect sollution. But nothing in the world is ever perfect.

      1. “But, we also ought to insure that people still get treatment and don’t have their lives ruined by getting sick.”

        Through the government? I mean, if, after all that, charity doesn’t foot the bill, what then?

        1. That is where you have to have a civil society outside of government. If our society is so cold and heartless that it will let large numbers of people die for lack of medical care, no government program, no matter how well funded or concieved, is going to save us.

          1. Look, we had civil society back before Medicare, Medicaid etc.,. And the public seemed to recognize that it was not cutting it. You really think they supported these programs when there was no recognized need for them? I mean, if society is that befuddled and stupid, then no elimination of any government program, no matter how market fostering, is going to save us…

            1. I don’t think that society recognized it wasn’t cutting it. Those programs were very controversial and didn’t pass by wide margins. Further, perception is not always reality.

              You say they “weren’t cutting it”. How? Was the US life expectancy lower than the rest of the world’s back then? How many people were actually dying for lack of medical care? You assume that it wasn’t because it fits your view of the world. But I don’t see and have never seen the facts that actually support that. Fifty years and trillions of dollars later, how much better off are we today than we would have been had those programs not been passed? And it not just a question of benefits. It is also a question of the opportunity cost of sinking all that money into those programs.

              1. I don’t think people were duped on a massive scale to support these programs. These kinds of things usually don’t get passed unless a need is widely recognized. People are not fools.

                1. And I do know that every major indicator of poverty fell dramatically from 1959 (pre-Great Society) to the 1970’s. Especially for blacks and other poorer groups

                  1. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www…..tpov2.html

                    Table 2. Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic
                    Origin: 1959 to 2006

                    1959: 55.1% in poverty
                    1970: 33.5% in poverty

                    That’s an incredible drop in 11 years. Let’s hear it for the Great Society!

                    1. See my post below. You are cheating. The great society wasn’t passed until 1965 and didn’t have an effect until 1966. The poverty rate fell clearly through the first half of the 60s. You can’t count that reduction in evaluating programs that hadn’t been passed yet.

                      That is a really old trick MNG. I would think you would realize that people on here are a bit smarter than that. Try again.

                  2. people WERE duped on a massive scale – including the self deluded politicians who rammed it through. The costs of Medicare and social security are orders of magnitude higher than what was promised when they were passed. Considering that they were controversial even at their then admitted cost level, I doubt they would have passed had it been known then that the true bill would be 10 times more.

                  3. Not exactly. It had been falling for years since the depression. It stood at 22.4% in 1959. It then continued to fall steadily and stood at 17.1% in 65, the year those programs were passed and 14.2% in 66 the year the programs actually started to work. It hit 12.6% by 69 and has been stuck around 12 % ever since.

                    Two points. Second, the poverty rate was falling on its own in the 1960s before those programs were ever passed. Those programs can’t take credit for improvements that happened in the early 60s before they were passed. Second, those initial great society programs were very small compared to what we have today. Even if you go on the assumption that the great society programs were entirely responsible for the reduction in poverty in the late 60s (which is a pretty big assumption to make when you consider poverty was already falling on its own), the massive explosion in welfare spending that has happened since has done virtually nothing to reduce poverty. Forty years and God knows how much money later, the poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3%.

                    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/histpov/hstpov2.html

                    1. people dont contribute to charity precisely BECAUSE government programs exist. Humans are charitable creatures – neither libertarians, liberals, nor conservative want to live in a society where people cant get the basic things they need to live. All we disagree on is HOW to avoid such a society.

                      Liberals think government is the only answer that works, because they dont believe people are good enough on their own to help each other – or because they want to be the ones to receive the power that holding the rice bowl possesses.

                      Libertarians think people are good and wise enough to help each other without government compulsion via taxes. By and large, their disaffectation with the current system which does exactly that makes them annoyed and angry enough that it seems like they would rather have people starve. However, I think if you looked at the stats, that libertarians would be as generous as other groups in contributions. Moreover, in the absence of government programs, I think (and sincerely hope) you would find libertarians to be the most generous of political groups. Generous, that is, with their OWN money.

                    2. Wrong, libertarians, well, a lot of them, though certainly not all, just want a way they don’t have to help anyone. Thus “private charity” should take care of everyone.

                    3. Wrong, libertarians, well, a lot of them, though certainly not all, just want a way they don’t have to help anyone. Thus “private charity” should take care of everyone.

                      Right. And guvmint enforced wealth redistribution is just the liberal way of showing how much you want to roll up your shirtsleeves and get into the trenches.

                      Look, we get it. You like the idea of the guvmint forcibly enforcing your moral code. Libertarians prefer to leave that job in the hands of the individual, where moral codes belong.

                    4. Just had to go there, didn’t you?

                    5. Just because it doesn’t reach zero doesn’t mean that its proof of it being worthless. Maybe 12% is the lowest you can get it with that spending, but any less would make it rise, and a cut back to 1959 levels would get you a 1959 poverty rate. That’s as consistent with the data as what you are talking about.

                      And, you act like the period of 1960-1965 didn’t see any siginficant government anti-poverty or anti-discrimination laws passed…

                    6. “And, you act like the period of 1960-1965 didn’t see any siginficant government anti-poverty or anti-discrimination laws passed…”

                      That is because there were not. The “war on poverty” didn’t start until 64. Go find me a significant anti-poverty program that was passed before 64 and really 65. You won’t find many or any of significance.

                      And you dodge the question. The problem for you is not that it only reduced the poverty rate to 12%. It is that the rate was falling on its own before any of those programs were passed, so it is impossible to tell how much good they actually did. And the rate stayed at 12% despite huge increases in spending after 1970. Liberals wasted trillions of dollars on programs that produced no significant reduction in poverty after 1970. Even if you can justify the initial program, which you can’t, there is no way you can justify the expansions that occured after 1970.

                2. They weren’t duped into thinking they were necessary. People want free stuff. They are fools because they think that stuff is actually free.

        2. I actually tend to think that our private charities would be able to do much more if people saw more of that half of their income they currently pay in taxes.

    3. Charity. There are lots of people as well as companies that want to help people. If our tax burden were less, and our insurance and health care costs across the board were lower, and if insurance companies were allowed to offer varying plans to fit the myriad of consumer needs, greater access to care (or insurance) would be there, provided by the whole of the market.

      The people who are currently considered uninsurable may have many more options. Let’s say someone has cancer. If plans weren’t required to be all or nothing, then an insurance company could offer the cancer customer an insurance policy that covers everything that is not related to cancer, such as a broken arm or treatment for influenza. So, they deny chemotherapy and tumor removal surgery (if this person wasn’t already covered when the cancer was discovered, of course — I feel people should not be dropped because they contracted an illness while they were insured, otherwise the insurance carrier has broken their “promise to pay.”) They can cover unrelated services. And maybe their plan even costs less since there is a specific costly thing they are not insuring. A la carte coverage, if you will. Then, organizations such as the American Cancer Society can use their resources from charitable donations many of us make, to cover such people’s cancer-related care. This can work, but govt prevents it from being tried by anyone.

    4. There aren’t any in the semse that would make you happy. We don’t live in a perfect world. We can make health care better and less expensive and more accessible by going the market route, but not everyone will have equal access, or everything they could possibly ever need, etc. But so what? Government can’t provide this fantasy either, but it can and does make costs higher and keeps supply low.

      One thing you need to understand is that insurance health care. Insurance is meant to protect one against rare, uncontrollable POTENTIAL catastrophic loss. That’s why it works. It is not meant to be a wealth redistribution system to the unfortunate, elderly and unhealthy from the young, well-off and well.

  6. Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance ? where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks ? the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. . . . Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken, . . .

    F.A.Hayek

    1. Once again, you try to conflate a basic social saftey-net and the sprawling welfare state. They are not the same thing.

    2. Fine in principle, however the cautionary tale of Social Security should be taken into account here. When it was founded, it was a small minority of recipients vs a large pool of contributors. Politicians have continuously expanded and/or refused to limit the system in response to the ever increasing life expectancy. Thereby creating a bloated, inefficient, and unsustainable system where people who do not need, still collect.

      I say, if there is to be a safety net for the uninsurable, let it exist at the state level. They are at least limited in their capability to spend beyond their means. The federal gov’t has no such constraints.

      1. In other words, a Ponzi scheme.

  7. Before we get to far away from the post…

    Krugman’s a hypocritical prick? Catch me when I fall, dear fainting couch!

    1. I don’t think he was literally advocating this, I think this was what they call a “joke.”

      1. Yeah, his columns are pretty fucking hilari — oh. Oh I see what you mean.

      2. I;m sure it was a joke. But when you condemn something one side is doing, but advocate it when you side would do it, it’s commonly called hypocrisy.

        The acid test would be if someone burned Sour Joe in effigy and Krugman didn’t condemn it in the same terms.

        If fine with my position until then.

        1. “The acid test would be if someone burned Sour Joe in effigy and Krugman didn’t condemn it in the same terms.”

          Well, yeah, THEN it would be hypocrisy. But not until.

          1. Is it in your contract that you have to defend every liberal dumbass? Krugman wants to have it both ways and thinks no one will check up on him to keep him consistent. He did this with the housing bubble and he’s doing it here.

            Once Krugman ever says anything even remotely funny on purpose, he can be defended for making jokes.

            1. “Once Krugman ever says anything even remotely funny on purpose, he can be defended for making jokes.”

              I think that’s a fair point.

          2. Oh come on. He said “…congressman hung in effigy…” is “something new and ugly” and then called for progressives to hang someone in effigy. If this is not hypocrisy there is no such thing as hypocrisy.

            1. I’m sure by “new and ugly” he meant “at least centuries old.”

            2. Krugman doesn’t like *Congressmen* being hanged in effigy, but Lieberman is a Senator. So there.

          3. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Krugman is an ideological hack who engages in sophistry every day of his waking life.

  8. I think the distorting effects of not being taxed on health insurance is way overrated. People are risk averse. Few people would actually cut back on their health insurance if they had to pay taxes on the income. They would just cut back on something else and keep their health insurance as is. I don’t buy the argument that people are unwillingly over insuring themselves. Most people are terrified of being sick and not being able to pay for it or being able to work. Getting sick with no insurance and losing your ability to work with no disability is the quickest way to go from middle class to poor in this country. Anyone with something to lose is always going to be risk averse and over insure against that.

    1. The distorting effect is that people get comprehensive health insurance from their employers when, if they bought it on their own, they’d get catastrophic health insurance and an HSA.

      Since the latter is generally cheaper — even after paying the whole annual deductible — health care costs in their entirety would decrease as well.

      1. But that distortion is not the result of the tax system. That distortion is the result of state laws that require insurance policies to offer minimum coverage. State laws essentially mandate that you can’t buy just catastrophic insurance.

        People still like money. If they had the ability to cut their insurance down to the minimum, they would even if that meant paying more taxes. The problem is thanks to idiotic state laws, in most cases they can’t.

        1. Bingo (and more words to get passed the Squirrel and his minions).

        2. This is true. At least in some states. Not as true in others, where catastrophic insurance is legal.

          Hypothesizing a reform that would include removing the tax bias for employer provided health insurance, Congress would indeed have to get rid of the state insurance exception to the interstate commerce clause.

      2. But that would lend itself nearly as much to the real objective behind health care “reform” – deliberate wealth redistribution and making as many people as possible as dependendent on government as possible.

  9. So where’s that pilot program for punitive damages caps? Or the one where that allows insurance companies to not set up a different structure in every state to save administrative costs? Oh wait… those aren’t innovative ideas those are obstructionist propaganda.

  10. By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman Paul Krugman in effigy.

    Fixed.

  11. Exactly right! The Democrats’ solution to the disaster of a mostly socialized mess is to fully socialize it. We’d be way ahead by simply extracting the government from health care instead of injecting more of it. If Democrats had been in charge of evolution we’d still be barely walking upright and living in caves. And that’s exactly where we’ll end up if they aren’t defeated.

  12. With so much having been said and so much having been done (much of it by Harry Reid behind closed doors), for me it now falls to “the kindness of strangers” (senators in other states) to drive a stake through the heart of this vampiric monstrosity of a bill.

  13. glad you gave me the link to the Krugman article as it allowed me to see that you took him out of context. The first line of his article that you quoted wasn’t a call to hanging Liberman in effigy. Instead, it was the start of an argument that said “be mad all you want, but pass HC reform anyway”. Too bad you had to try to distort it….I guess your argument must be weak otherwise.

    1. So let me get this straight, I can have the body of the article advocate any any atrocity I like, so long as the opening sentence gives praise to hugs and puppies. That was, I can claim anyone quoting me is is taking it out of context. In his rant arguing for passing health care reform he made an off hand comment about hanging Joe Lieberman in effigy. That’s not out of context (except by your tortured definition) and it’s not what I would expect anyone trying to raise alarm about the hostility of the political climate to say.

  14. Krugman is an utter skank. He’s to the Left as Hannity is to the Right. A lying party-line hack who will say ANYTHING to advance the socialist agenda. His “nobel prize” (along with Gore’s and Obama’s) simply proved that the Nobel process is politicized and it’s used to reward “right thinking” folk who are advancing the Left’s agenda.

  15. Also, MNG, you seem to have completely ignored the advances in the civil rights movement and the educational system that were taking place prior to, and concurrent with the advent of the ‘Great Society’ reforms. Give a man a fish… teach a man to fish.

    1. The Great Society proved one thing beyond doubt: If you pay people to be poor, they will be.

  16. At some point, people just stop believing you.

    Good epitaph for the effigy of Paul Krugman.

  17. “bending the cost curve”? Just where in the hell did that piece of BS political spin come from. I need to tell that one to my mortage company when I only pay them 50% of what I owe. I’ll just say I’m “bending the cost curve”. I’m sure they’ll understand.

  18. Why would anyone qoute Krugman? He makes the most insane Liberal statements that I have ever heard. An example of one of his headlines “Don’t Worry About Large Deficits”, WHAT?!?! He posts every other day, and the articles make him look like an Idiot or he thinks his readers are. I read Lib and Con articles from different sources, but I always skip his because the ones that I have read in the past were so full of BS it made my computer stink. Took weeks to get rid of the smell. No wonder the NYT is on the verge of bankruptcy and has lost it’s rep. It is upseting that RPC wasted it’s space with his crap, rather than someone who is not a BS artist.

  19. Great stuff….kudos.

  20. Btw, in what plane of existence can one increase demand, reduce supply(via disincentivizing providers), force payers to take losses and somehow reduce cost without rationing or destroying the quality of the product? Wondering….

    Also, didn’t see a pilot that holds users accountable for excess consumption in the system. Why is it that these buffoons want to shut down demand via dopey cap-and-trade and energy policies, but when it comes to Health Care the concept of over-consumption and demand it absent?

  21. Are you comfortable with your intellectual dishonesty, Matt?

  22. Watch this documentary, watch it with an opened mind as you could watch any other topic, forget blind ideologies for a few minutes, those bizarres ideologies that just serve to turn people dumb or idiotic and then you will discover how the rest of modern societies see US on this specific subject (astonished?. You will learn how between the Libertarian caveman ideology and Communism the rest is the civilized world is 10 years ahead in this topic, with a free market solution by the way.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/…..dtheworld/

  23. Krugman, like Obama (the messiah [TM]) is proof that the Nobel prizes are pure crap and awarded to Bush haters and socialists.

  24. Krugman, Gore, Obama, what do they have in common?

    Each has been awarded a Nobel Prize for no apparent reason. The unspoken award here is for “leadership in the systematic dismantling of the US Republic and free market system.” These three are part of an exclusive and unspoken society, with the aim of making all Americans dependant upon a bankrupt and growing entitlement system. As they destroy the wealth and freedom of this country, and the population is forced to compete to get their slice of a rapidly declining pie, they intend to fan populous fervor as a means of enhancing their power. This “trick” has been repeated countless times in history and today’s US socialists are no different.

    In the end they intend to redistribute the remaining power and wealth of this country to federal bureaucrats, union bosses, attorneys, and ivory tower academics, who are the clear winners under Obamanomics. Having destroyed all incentives for creating wealth, the rest of us are left groveling at their feet for our meager portion of their scraps.

  25. And by no means add tort-reform because doctors don’t pay exorbitant malpractice insurance fees and practice defensive medicine to cover their butts which in turn leads to all that waste Obama speaks of.

    Any bill that doesn’t start with tort-reform is not reforming the system whatsoever and I don’t expect democrats to cap the trial lawyers profits any time soon.

    I predict a lot of doctors retire soon if Obamacare passes.

  26. “Wondering….”

    In the land of fairies and unicorns where these “bubble people”(Bernie Goldberg’s term) live.

  27. Krugman is an utter skank. He’s to the Left as Hannity is to the Right. A lying party-line hack who will say ANYTHING to advance the socialist agenda. His “nobel prize” (along with Gore’s and Obama’s) simply proved that the Nobel process is politicized and it’s used to reward “right thinking” folk who are advancing the Left’s agenda.

    The Nobel has been a joke since they awarded it to Arafat and the only difference is Krugman, Obama and Gore are economic terrorist.

  28. Harry Reid is preparing a Christmas present for America, the land of the once free and the brave. His gift – socialist fascism. Government will dictate to private insurance companies (fascism) that they must take preexisting condition patients. The CBO can’t estimate how much that will increase premiums, but it’s safe to say that with fines the IRS will levy for not purchasing insurance are about half the amount of premiums, lots of folks will be motivated to wait until they are sick before purchasing insurance.

    This motivation is likely to be self-reinforcing. As more people defer purchasing insurance until they are sick, premiums will rise. Higher premiums – together with the squeeze effect of carbon taxes, inflation (economists are arguing whether it will be hypo or hyper inflation), federal debt payments, Copenhagen commitments, redistribution from folks who work to the nearly half of Americans who pay no taxes, etc ? will force yet more people to defer until they get sick, and so on.

    How are young people ever going to purchase a home when they are paying fines to the IRS and being squeezed by all the other costs Obama and the democrats are racing to enact? How is anybody going to retire with dignity?

  29. Has anyone heard the Coburn-Baucus exchange about Senators reading and comprehending the bill? Coburn proposes an amendment that would require every Senator to sign off that he/she had read the bill and understood it. Baucus laughingly dismisses the concept that Senators could read and comprehend such a monumental piece of legislation. Hello!!!!!! Isn’t reading-comprehending-voting the essence of their jobs? I am so depressed.

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