Update: Paul Krugman has a response to Obama’s latest “false claims” and “quotes out of context” attack. First Krugman reprints the full quote which Obama selectively edited. Then Krugman writes:
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.
Maybe Oprah will forego doling out cars today and instead pay the health care costs of the 15 million Americans Obama abandons as uninsured in his NOT universal healthcare plan.
But Obama is persisting in his deceptions. Once again, typical for the Chicago crowd, Obama is attacking the critics of his healthcare plan instead of fixing his plan (link HERE to Obama’s website attack on Paul Krugman). And, Obama is once again using selected quotes and distortions to slime legitimate arguments.
Taylor Marsh has the play by play on Obama’s attack on Paul Krugman:
Since when do presidential candidates do “then” and “now” comparisons on columnist’s writings? Like I said, very weird and also a bit defensive, especially since the quotes are truncated so badly as to totally misrepresent the column Krugman wrote.
Take this snippet:
KRUGMAN THEN: Obama’s Health Care Plan “Is Smart And Serious, Put Together By People Who Know What They’re Doing.” Paul Krugman wrote, “The Obama plan is smart and serious, put together by people who know what they’re doing…So there’s a lot to commend the Obama plan.” [New York Times, 6/4/07]
KRUGMAN NOW: “The Fundamental Weakness Of The Obama Plan Was Apparent From The Beginning.” Paul Krugman wrote, “The fundamental weakness of the Obama plan was apparent from the beginning.” [New York Times, 11/30/07]
In the “then” section above there is another point completely left out of Obama’s (ahem) “Fact Check” item:
Now for the bad news. Although Mr. Obama says he has a plan for universal health care, he actually doesn’t — a point Mr. Edwards made in last night’s debate. The Obama plan doesn’t mandate insurance for adults. So some people would take their chances — and then end up receiving treatment at other people’s expense when they ended up in emergency rooms. In that regard it’s actually weaker than the Schwarzenegger plan.I asked David Cutler, a Harvard economist who helped put together the Obama plan, about this omission. His answer was that Mr. Obama is reluctant to impose a mandate that might not be enforceable, and that he hopes — based, to be fair, on some estimates by Mr. Cutler and others — that a combination of subsidies and outreach can get all but a tiny fraction of the population insured without a mandate. Call it the timidity of hope. … ..
There is no “then” and “now” with Krugman. Referring to Obama’s health care plan as the “timidity of hope” is hardly positive. Krugman has been consistent throughout. However, you sure won’t get that from Obama’s “Fact Check” page.
Marsh explains why Obama is targeting Paul Krugman for attack:
But why is Obama targeting Krugman on his website? Krugman believes mandates are critical in order to get everyone insured. Without mandates, which must include adults to be successful, you simply aren’t going to get universal health coverage.
Maybe Obama’s worried that the word will get out that his plan falls short of universal coverage. That would be because it does. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t believe we can get to universal coverage and isn’t even going to try. That would be more trouble for him in the primaries.
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?
Update: To say a bit more on this, the campaign’s attack on Krugman raises the question they don’t want to answer: What changed? When Obama’s plan came out, Krugman, and me, and Jon Cohn, and all the usual suspects criticized it for lacking an individual mandate, but said that, on the overall, it was pretty good, and Obama had passed the bar. Suddenly, we’re all up in arms. Why?
Well, it was one thing when Obama simply didn’t have a mechanism to achieve universality. It became a whole other when he began criticizing mechanisms to achieve universality. 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.
Krugman has explained why Obama’s rhetoric is dangerous to true progressives and Democrats who want reform:
Why I get mad at Obama about Social Security
So I just spent a fairly unpleasant 15 minutes on right-wing talk radio. And the host said — this is rough, not a verified quote —
“Look, everyone knows that Social Security is going bust, and we’d all be better off if we could put out money in 401(k)s. Even Barack Obama says so!”
There’s still a difference between being an icon of change and an agent of change. And there is a difference as well between being a fine philosopher king and a strong presidential challenger.
It’s easy to understand why Obama hopes the woman who sold America James Frey’s A Million Little
Lies Pieces will help sell Obama’s 15 Million Lies.
But the rest of us, especially Americans without health insurance, know that Obama Is Never There When You Need Him.