blueollie

2016 Democratic Dust up: Hillary-Bernie and Krugman-Reich

When people who are usually allies start arguing politics, it is *probably* primary season.

Bernie Sanders has made some headway in the polls and is a bona-fide threat to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire (I predict a split) and so his positions are getting some scrutiny.

And yes, the numbers do not add up, as Paul Krugman points out (re: health care):

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.

And look: if the political theory behind supporting Sanders is that the American people will vote for radical change if you’re honest about what’s involved, the campaign’s evident unwillingness to fully confront the issues, its reliance on magic asterisks, very much weakens that claim.

I think it fails on both counts: political feasibility (from where WE are right now) and on the technical details. You might say “tax the rich” and that IS a good thing, but the arithmetic doesn’t add up.

Now people like Krugman are catching heat from some:

One of the differences between right and left in America is that the progressive infrastructure includes a contingent of genuine wonks — commentators on policy who really do make models and crunch numbers, and sometimes come up with answers that aren’t fully predictable from their politics. The list includes Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, Mike Konczal, myself some of the time, and others. Right now the wonk brigade has been weighing in on Bernie Sanders, and is in general not too impressed on either financial reform or health care.

And the response of some — only some — Sanders supporters is disappointing, although I guess predictable given that somewhat similar things happened during the 2008 primary. There will, I guess, always be some people who, having made an emotional commitment to a candidate, can’t accept the proposition that someone might share their values but honestly disagree with the candidate’s approach.

Emphasis mine. I’ve seen some of that in my private life too (NOT from my wife; she supports Hillary Clinton).

And now you have people like Robert Reich claiming that Paul Krugman doesn’t “get it”.

Krugman doesn’t get it. I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

Political “pragmatism” may require accepting “half loaves” – but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. That’s why the movement must aim high – toward a single-payer universal health, free public higher education, and busting up the biggest banks, for example.

Uh, you can “aim high” but THE NUMBERS HAVE TO ADD UP AND THE PROPOSALS MUST BE HONEST AS TO THE COST. The positions of Sen. Sanders fails on both counts and admitting that is just simple honesty.

January 24, 2016 - Posted by | 2016, health care, political/social, politics | , ,

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