I’m sure you’re all aware of the way Sen. Obama’s taken after Paul Krugman for critiquing and (to some extent) criticizing his healthcare reform for its lack of individual mandates. Krugman had this to say on Nov. 30th in Mandates and Mudslinging..
From the beginning, advocates of universal health care were troubled by the incompleteness of Barack Obama’s plan, which unlike those of his Democratic rivals wouldn’t cover everyone. But they were willing to cut Mr. Obama slack on the issue, assuming that in the end he would do the right thing.
Now, however, Mr. Obama is claiming that his plan’s weakness is actually a strength. What’s more, he’s doing the same thing in the health care debate he did when claiming that Social Security faces a "crisis" — attacking his rivals by echoing right-wing talking points.
Make the jump...
I had a few things to say about this dust-up in my diary - Paul Krugman Weighs in on Mandates.
And now someone from our side is going after Krugman and basically calling him a liar by saying Krugman didn’t always have a problem with Obama’s omission of mandates in his healthcare reform plan?
Jerome Armstrong had this to say over on MyDD the other day – starting off by pointing out that Robert Gibbs (who’s on Obama’s staff) has a tendency to go after other dems around this point in an election cycle, and this year it’s no different. Sadly, Obama doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. He goes on by saying...
Actually, it's worse. Couple it with the quote of Obama's above the PR that says: "I want to campaign the same way I govern, which is to respond directly and forcefully with the truth - Barack Obama". It is plainly and simply an effort to call Paul Krugman a liar.
But it's also a telling quote of the way that Obama would govern as President-- by attacking those who are most outspoken in the being progressive.
If there's one person that I would point to in the establishment press that was there during the wilderness, the period of '01-'03, before Dean arrived on the scene, it was Paul Krugman. The guy should be awarded some sort of Presidential award by the next President for his truth telling while nearly all the rest of the establishment press could only be found on their knees in front of BushCo during the beginning of this decade.
He closes by asking the same thing I’ve been wondering. Given this pattern over the past few months, I’m starting to think that if he gets in to the White House he’ll forget who we are in a heartbeat.
Krugman had more to say on this in his Op Ed on Friday. After reminding us that he hadn’t take great exception to Obama’s plan when he first discussed all this, he said it’s with the other Dems plans in that it’s a damn sight better than anything the Republicans would have ever proposed. From Krugman’s Column on Dec. 7th
But lately Mr. Obama has been stressing his differences with his rivals by attacking their plans from the right — which means that he has been giving credence to false talking points that will be used against any Democratic health care plan a couple of years from now.
He goes on to dismantle the various points used by Obama’s camp to attack the plans of his rivals, and finishes up with the following on the question of mandates...
Here’s an analogy. Suppose someone proposed making the Medicare payroll tax optional: you could choose not to pay the tax during your working years if you didn’t think you’d actually need Medicare when you got older — except that you could change your mind and opt back in if you started to develop health problems.
Can we all agree that this would fatally undermine Medicare’s finances? Yet Mr. Obama is proposing basically the same rules for his allegedly universal health care plan.
So how much does all this matter?
Mr. Obama’s health plan is weaker than those of his Democratic rivals, but it’s infinitely superior to, say, what Rudy Giuliani has been proposing. My main concern right now is with Mr. Obama’s rhetoric: by echoing the talking points of those who oppose any form of universal health care, he’s making the task of any future president who tries to deliver universal care considerably more difficult.
I’d add, however, a further concern: the debate over mandates has reinforced the uncomfortable sense among some health reformers that Mr. Obama just isn’t that serious about achieving universal care — that he introduced a plan because he had to, but that every time there’s a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less.
Well today Krugman had this to say in Oy Obama...
Ok, well he just points to an article by Ezra Klein in which he said...
Something's really gone off the rails when the Obama campaign decides to release an oppo document on Paul Krugman. It's not only the actual attacks that are weak (most of them rely on misinterpreting one comment, then misinterpreting the next, then pretending there's a contradiction), but, seriously, it's Paul Krugman. Arguably the most progressive voice in American media. When I argued that the campaign should take the gloves off, I really didn't expect their target, in this document and in the health care fight more generally, would be progressivism. What in hell is going on over there?
Previously, he'd gotten some flack for buying into the conservative argument that Social Security was in crisis. Now he was constructing a conservative argument against far-reaching reform proposals. And he kept doing it. And now his campaign is misrepresenting Krugman's comments in order to imply contradiction. But Krugman hasn't contradicted himself. Where his original comments focused on Obama's plan, his newer arguments are attempting to beat back Obama's rhetoric. And Obama's rhetoric has become much, much worse than his plan. That it's ended with him having to go on the offensive against the most forthrightly progressive voice in major American media is evidence of that fact.
Ok back to Krugman and his column today. He reminds us of what he said originally about Obama’s plan (see above) and continues with...
And I was prepared to leave it at that — Obama’s plan was weaker than his rivals’ because it wasn’t universal, but I hoped that he would fix that in practice.
But then Obama started attacking his rivals from the right, denouncing their proposals using exactly the same false claims that conservatives will use to try to derail reform in the future.
And now, having been caught out on the facts, the Obama people respond with a personal attack, lifting quotes out of context to pretend that I never had problems with the plan. Something is very wrong here.
If you don’t think Krugman’s one of the good guys, check out some of his columns over the past year or two...
Some of these older columns might require a log-in with a free membership at NYT.
A Hostage Situation On funding requests and threatening to withhold supplies from our troops.
A Healthy New Year On universal healthcare (it’s not like he’s exactly new to this issue).
When Votes Disappear
King of Pain Bush & torture.
This guy’s one of us dammit - get the picture?
I’ve seen people slam Clark and Wilson when they criticize Obama’s plans – guys who used to be cheered and held up as one of us – simply because they decided to endorse Hillary.
Krugman hasn’t endorsed anybody guys. He simply said (as a progressive and an economist) that Obama’s healthcare reform plan fell short in that it doesn’t include individual mandates. And to look at some of the comments posted by Obama’s supporters here in cyber-space, you’d think Krugman were suddenly the spawn of Satan or something!
I traded emails with a friend of my folks on this earlier today, and here’s what she had to say about this latest round...
This is bigger than just Krugman. Look at the whole thing. Who's been
holding up the progressive banner through the bad years? Krugman, Wilson, Wes Clark, etc. Then there's all the people who fought the stem cell and abortion rights and gun control battles when BushCo and the Supreme Court were whittling away at these rights. It wasn't easy, but these people kept fighting.
All these principled and brave champions of progressive causes are now being criticized by a summer soldier- Barack Obama. Barack Obama, who didn't have the cojones to say, "yes, i support a woman's right to choose". He said, "present". Same with he MoveOn vote - Barack takes a dive. And as soon as Krugman and the other experts point out that hislily-livered, no-mandate health plan is a lame-ass approach that won't work, Obama trashes them too. What does it take for a progressive to get Obama's support?
Time for us to stand up for good guys like Paul Krugman and come to his defense dammit.
Cross-posted on MyDD.com