Paul Krugman is so far removed from ordinary Americans’ concerns that they might as well all live in Benghazi

Written by . Posted in 2014 Campaigns, Issue Watch, Yep, This Happened

Published on November 26, 2013

CapturePaul Krugman:

Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.

And it’s already starting to happen.

Krugman presents two pieces of evidence for his optimism: First, the White House sounds really upbeat. (Yes, that’s really half of his argument.) Second, he points out, the media coverage has shifted. I don’t even think that’s true (it wasn’t this morning on CBS News), but his tacit assumption is that the media coverage is driving people’s anger, and not the other way around. I’d just put it this way: You wouldn’t see so many negative stories about Obamacare if there weren’t so many people out there being affected by it negatively.

I’m not going to say that Krugman’s scenario is impossible, but as Townhall’s Guy Benson points out, Democratic politicians don’t seem to share his optimism at all. And anyone who can read polls, gauge Obamacare enrollment in the states whose exchanges are functioning, or who understands the upcoming pitfalls present in Obamacare — some by design and some by accident — knows that this is wishful thinking with flimsy evidence. (Krugman has actually been writing stuff like this almost since the Obamacare exchanges launched.)

Still, I find the Benghazi comparison interesting. One might wonder why an arguably more serious failure of government like that one (people did die, after all) has only aroused interest among Obama’s critics, whereas the Affordable Care Act is sending President Obama to new lows in the polls every day. 

The explanation I’ve offered when asked is that most people weren’t there at Benghazi and don’t know anyone directly affected by it. In contrast, it’s likely that almost everyone in the real world knows somebody whose insurance is either getting canceled or becoming more expensive (or both) or even outright unaffordable to them because of the Affordable Care Act. 

Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner, a well-paid columnist, and a bestselling author. I assume he’s a millionaire. I don’t hold that against him, but from reading all of these repeated and reflexive defenses of Obamacare, it seems safe to say he doesn’t share much in common nowadays with regular, everyday people who are not poor yet must always worry about money.

For most of us, a few hundred extra per month for a health plan won’t put out of house and home, but it might mean no trips to visit family next year, a less generous Christmas for the children, no date night this week or next, less to save for retirement, no The New York Times subscription, and generally fewer chances to enjoy life with the modest salaries we earn.

These aren’t Paul Krugman concerns, though, so it’s easy to see how rising premiums and deductibles, and other people’s loss of health plans they liked and were promised they could keep, could seem as distant as the shores of Cyrenaica.