Krugman Again

A “breathtaking act of staggering hypocrisy.” That’s Paul Krugman writing about moi and Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan. It’s a rare day when Krugman can write about people he disagrees with without attacking their character and their motives. Today is not one of those days. Here’s more:

It’s not just the fact that Republicans are now posing as staunch defenders of a program they have hated ever since the days when Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America’s freedom.

What’s truly mind-boggling is this: Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they are, themselves, seeking to dismantle the whole program.

And what, you may ask, provoked all this outrage? A Wall Street Journal editorial Newt and I wrote on Wednesday. One of our 10 reforms said “Don’t cut Medicare.” Yet all three of us (and everybody else with any sense) knows that this program must be reformed. Is that hypocrisy? I’ll let Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan defend themselves. My brief response is below the fold.

In the NCPA study A Framework for Medicare Reform, I outlined a way to move Medicare to a private, prefunded system that by mid century will require no higher payroll tax than the one we have today. (Simulations by Tom Saving and his colleagues.) There are no benefit cuts in this proposal. There are demand-side and supply-side reforms that slow the rate of growth of costs, however. Also, if there is a way to find “savings” in Medicare, I can almost guarantee you they will be needed to help fund that reform.

In the meantime, we do not want to make our entitlement spending crisis even worse by creating new unfunded liabilities for young people – which is what ObamaCare would do. Taking Medicare off the table, I believe, would completely end that threat.

Comments (13)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Krugman deserves the Jerk of the Year Award. There is such an award, isn’t there?

  2. Tom H. says:

    I second Bruce’s comment.

  3. Joe S. says:

    This is the same Paul Krugman who thinks the IOUs the government writes to itself can be used to pay Social Security and Medicare benefits? And he thinks Goodman and Gingrich and Ryan want to harm the elderly?

    At least the Republicans aren’t trying to sell seniors another Ponzi scheme or trying to cover up one through his columns in the New York Times.

  4. Larry C. says:

    Joe makes a good point. It’ the people who create retirement Ponzi schemes and apologize for them and try to convince seniors that they are just like private pensions who are the real enemies of retirees.

  5. Neil H. says:

    The biggest hypocrit is Kruman himself, who (a) promotes national health insurance and (b) pretends to be concerned about the elderly, when (c) he must know that whenever health care is rationed it is the elderly who are pushed to the back of the waiting lines.

  6. Ken says:

    I agree with Neil.

  7. Steve Tipton says:

    Don’t really have the time to detail and document all of Krugman’s innacurate facts and analysis. But the real good news is that I doubt very many people read him, and even fewer believe what he says. Unfortunately, responding to him gives him at least some appearance of credibility and stroke, neither of which he posseses. Annoying, yes; but ignore him as you would a chigger, with the knowledge that no real harm is done by him. I say move forward, and refuse to let this sniping distract you.

  8. Guy Cumbie says:


    Unfortunately, this is a classic case of how you have to be careful picking a fight (in this instance advertently or inadvertently) with someone who buys ink by the carload, or regularly writes for someone, like the NYT, who buys ink by the carload.

    You and Newt do the great work in the prized and hard to get WSJ editorial space, then Krugman can flippantly use all the space and time he need/wants in his NYT column to slander you both. Then your ability to respond to what for him is really pretty cheap slander, is limited to a blog with a tiny fraction of the readership of the NYT, and a fraction likely composed largely of your choir members at that.

    I suppose the only possibly constructive thought I have on this issue going forward is that any anticipateable objections/counters need to be preempted to the maximum extent possible in the original piece. Such a fine line between preemption and paranoid confusion of the issues!

    Of course probably most of Krugman’s NYT readership are his choirmembers as well.

    Thanks for both the article and its defense!

  9. Art says:

    At least Newt and you included healthcare fraud on your list, even though it was not at the top of the list as being $120 billion a year for which no value is obtained!

    As long as the major costs of Waste, Fraud and Abuse in healthcare are left “unreformed” any who want to see Medicare and Medicaid to “go away” will get their wish as these go bankrupt taking many states with them.

  10. Aaron says:

    Your idea is not a GOP idea.

    Your editorial represented that you were describing GOP ideas.

    Your attack on Krugman is predicated upon a game of “bait and switch” – you are now claiming to have been talking about your own, personal idea and not GOP ideas. If that’s your best defense of your editorial, it’s an awfully weak one.

  11. John Goodman says:

    Aaron: As is true for all guest authors at the Journal (and other papers) Newt and I did not choose the headline on our editorial. I first saw the heading when you saw it — in the paper.

    I wish the Journal had not described these ideas as GOP ideas, because you are right. They really aren’t. They are sensible person ideas.

  12. Stephen C. says:

    Hey, folks. Why has no one pointed out that the Republicans expanded Medicare — the largest welfare expansion in 40 years? In the process they created an unfunded liability larger that that of Social Security.

    The problem with Republicans is not that they want to cut Medicare. It’s that they made new promises we can never pay for.

  13. Alex says:

    Medicare has to be restricted i.e. a spending cap has to be put in place. My children and grandchildren cannot bankrupt their future by paying for Medicare and for the Baby Boomers.

    The US is one of the only, maybe the only one, that has unrestricted funding for a public health care system.

    Ad notam. The Baby Boomers will be the most affluent of all. Approximately 80 % of income and wealth is in the hands of those over 55. For every dollar spent on children 7 dollars is spent on seniors. It is completely untenable. There has to be as in my birth country a comprehensive Social Security reform as well as a comprehensive Medicare reform i.e. a spending cap freezing Medicare at today’s level forcing the Baby Boomers to take out supplemental private insurance premiums as well as abolishing Medicare D.

    If this does not take place we will see a generational war, young families will stop paying taxes.

    A compromise would be to let Social Security stay as it is but to drastically cut Medicare.

    I do not want to pay taxes 2020-2030 in the region of 60-70 % of my income to pay for the Baby Boomers Social Security, Medicare and Long Term Care.