Paul Krugman has a strongly argued column Monday morning that’s about two big things. One: Obamacare is working better than even its supporters predicted. Two: In today’s post-fact society, none of its critics are acknowledging the wrongness of their predictions of doom.
He goes through the major predictions from the right (“rate shock,” with premiums doubling, “death spiral” in which only the sickest sign up, more people would lose coverage than gain it, the cost of the program would drive the deficit to the sky, and more).
None of it happened. The opposite happened. Uninsured rates dropping. Cost-containment mechanisms working. Average premiums last year even lower than the bill’s architects predicted. Writes Krugman: “This is what policy success looks like, and it should have the critics engaged in soul-searching about why they got it so wrong. But no.”
Which brings him to the second level of Krugman’s preachment. In a truth-seeking society, those who make dire predictions of disaster, who turn out to be wrong, should come forward, acknowledge they were wrong, seek to learn from their mistakes going forward. But who among the wrong predictors is coming forward to do that? On the contrary, Krugman says, those who made the predictions are denying they ever made them. Concludes Krugman:
Policy debates always involve more than just the specific issue on the table. They are also clashes of world views. Predictions of debt disaster, a debased dollar, and Obama death spirals reflect the same ideology, and the utter failure of these predictions should inspire major doubts about that ideology.
And there’s also a moral issue involved. Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life. It rises to the level of real wrongdoing when policies that affect millions of lives are at stake.