« 'Ten Things for Applied Econometricians to Keep in Mind' | Main | Links for 09-10-2013 »

Monday, September 09, 2013

Paul Krugman: The Wonk Gap

The disinformation on the right -- the wonk gap -- is hurting the conservative cause:

The Wonk Gap, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: On Saturday, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming delivered the weekly Republican address. He ... demanded repeal of the Affordable Care Act ... and he predicted “sticker shock” in the months ahead. ...
Mr. Barrasso’s remarks were actually interesting, although not in the way he intended. You see, all the recent news on health costs has been good. So Mr. Barrasso is predicting sticker shock precisely when serious fears of such a shock are fading fast. Why would he do that? ...
Mr. Barrasso was inadvertently illustrating the widening “wonk gap” — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example...
For the truth is that the good news on costs just keeps coming in. There has been a striking slowdown in overall health costs since the Affordable Care Act was enacted... And ... on average premiums will be significantly lower than those predicted by the Congressional Budget Office...
But do Republican politicians know any of this? Not if they’re listening to conservative “experts,” who have been offering a steady stream of misinformation. ... How many Republicans know, for example, that government employment has declined, not risen, under President Obama? ...
For that, surely, is what the wonk gap is all about. Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did. Back in the 1980s, after all, health experts at Heritage made a good-faith effort to devise a plan for universal health coverage — and what they came up with was the system now known as Obamacare.
But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.
It’s all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power — the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it’s disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they’re doing.

    Posted by on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 12:42 AM in Economics, Health Care, Politics | Permalink  Comments (90)

          


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.