Krugman’s blog, 8/17/15

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “The Medicaid Two-Step:”

The estimable Charles Gaba notes the latest in Obamacare denialism; OK, say the usual suspects, maybe the number of insured Americans has risen, but it’s mainly because of Medicaid expansion. As he says, this is only shocking if you consider Medicaid recipients somehow not worth counting, because, um, well.

Actually, however, this is an even worse argument than Gaba indicates. You see, before the ACA went into effect the very same people loudly insisted that expanding Medicaid was worthless, because instead of insuring more people it would mainly crowd out private insurance, making only a small dent in the number of uninsured Americans.

And maybe the Medicaid expansion has in some cases led people to drop the private coverage they would have had otherwise. But the number of uninsured has dropped sharply, especially in Medicaid expansion states. So if there was crowding out, it was more than offset by the expansion in private coverage due to the other features of Obamacare.

The point is that even aside from the facts that Medicaid is real insurance and Medicaid recipients are real people, the whole “but it’s just a Medicaid expansion” claim is outrageous coming from people who insisted just the other day that expanding Medicaid wouldn’t work.

So will the Medicaid-won’t work claim be dropped? Of course not. No anti-Obamacare argument ever is. These are people completely untroubled by cognitive dissonance.

Yesterday’s second post was “Base Versus Base:”

“This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.”

George W. Bush

Ezra Klein’s piece this morning on The Donald, and how his views are actually more representative of the GOP base than the establishment want to admit, dovetails with my piece about Social Security. Ezra is, however, a little vague about who he means by the Republican establishment; I argue that we’re really talking at this point about a small group of very wealthy donors. As the old joke by W indicates, these donors actually constitute a sort of different base.

And what we’re seeing here is a stark conflict between the two bases. The Bush base wants, well, Bush; it has anted up well over $100 million in an attempt to anoint Jeb! as the nominee, in part because he faithfully espouses its priorities. (Interesting note: If Jeb! really believed he could achieve 4 percent growth, there would be no need for Social Security cuts, since that kind of growth would rapidly fill federal coffers. But slashing the welfare state is, of course, not about the money — it’s about the pain.)

It turns out that Bro! was, for a while, pretty good at convincing the voter base that he was one of them, even while showing real featly to the big money. But that fell apart in 2005 during his attempt to privatize Social Security. And Jeb! has no talent at all for that kind of salesmanship — or, actually, anything as far as I can see. All that money, and he’s fourth in the polling.

Everyone still says that DT can’t win this thing, and they may be right. But who, exactly, is supposed to come out on top and how? The money seems to have lost its knack for hoodwinking the voters.

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