Krugman: Republicans Are A ‘Horde Of Zombies’ Whose Brains Have Been Eaten

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Via Paul Krugman for The New York Times

When the tweeter-in-chief castigated Senate Republicans as “total quitters” for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, they showed zombie-like relentlessness in their determination to take health care away from millions of Americans, shambling forward despite devastating analyses by the Congressional Budget Office, denunciations of their plans by every major medical group, and overwhelming public disapproval.

Put it this way: Senator Lindsey Graham was entirely correct when he described the final effort at repeal as “terrible policy and horrible politics,” a “disaster” and a “fraud.” He voted for it anyway — and so did 48 of his colleagues.

So where did this zombie horde come from? Who ate Republicans’ brains?

As many people have pointed out, when it came to health care Republicans were basically caught in their own web of lies. They fought against the idea of universal coverage, then denounced the Affordable Care Act for failing to cover enough people; they made “skin in the game,” i.e., high out-of-pocket costs, the centerpiece of their health care ideology, then denounced the act for high deductibles. When they finally got their chance at repeal, the contrast between what they had promised and their actual proposals produced widespread and justified public revulsion.

But the stark dishonesty of the Republican jihad against Obamacare itself demands an explanation. For it went well beyond normal political spin: for seven years a whole party kept insisting that black was white and up was down.

And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.

The right’s intellectual and moral collapse didn’t happen all at once. For a while, conservatives still tried to grapple with real problems. In 1989, for example, The Heritage Foundation offered a health care plan strongly resembling Obamacare. That same year, George H. W. Bush proposed a cap-and-trade system to control acid rain, a proposal that eventually became law.

But looking back, it’s easy to see the rot spreading. Compared with Donald Trump, the elder Bush looks like a paragon — but his administration lied relentlessly about rising inequality. His son’s administration lied consistently about its tax cuts, pretending that they were targeted on the middle class, and — in case you’ve forgotten — took us to war on false pretenses.

And almost the entire G.O.P. either endorsed or refused to condemn the “death panels” slander against Obamacare.

Given this history, the Republican health care disaster was entirely predictable. You can’t expect good or even coherent policy proposals from a party that has spent decades embracing politically useful lies and denigrating expertise.

And let’s be clear: we’re talking about Republicans here, not the “political system.”

Democrats aren’t above cutting a few intellectual corners in pursuit of electoral advantage. But the Obama administration was, when all is said and done, remarkably clearheaded and honest about its policies. In particular, it was always clear what the A.C.A. was supposed to do and how it was supposed to do it — and it has, for the most part, worked as advertised.

Now what? Maybe, just maybe, Republicans will work with Democrats to make the health system work better — after all, polls suggest that voters will, rightly, blame them for any future problems. But it wouldn’t be easy for them to face reality even if their president wasn’t a bloviating bully.

And it’s hard to imagine anything good happening on other policy fronts, either. Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.

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10 thoughts on “Krugman: Republicans Are A ‘Horde Of Zombies’ Whose Brains Have Been Eaten

  1. Both parties lack a deep personal connection to disadvantaged people in aggregate. Replace that necessary energy with anything else, and you have a deeply flawed approach.

    • Both parties want more government, bigger spending, bigger budgets. Period. Period. It’s the only reason they exist: to put up a front with that objective. And as long as people continue to vote for incumbents, things are dire. Public service used to be honorable, short term service to your citizenry. It’s not now. The best shot to save us is vote third party – ANY third party, take your pick, the Shriners Clown Detail or the Gilbert Gottfried Fan Club – and VOTE OUT INCUMBENTS.

    • “Both parties lack a deep personal connection to disadvantaged people in aggregate.”

      This should go without saying but, when “disadvantaged people” start voting in “aggregate,” both parties will have “a deep personal connection” with them. The parties and their candidates have a “deep personal connection” with those who vote them into office.

      • But what if that means they all vote for Hillary? Or Obama, or any other candidate that promises free lunches?

        Thinking about it, maybe the masses that voted for the clown prince in 2016 felt disadvantaged by the theft from the free lunch sellers, and the such-as-it-is “disadvantaged” voted en masse – with the anti-vote, not pro-Trump or pro-Rep.; but your voting bloc idea may be just what happened.

        Hey, I admire your noble expression (to a degree, and with theoretical reservations). Too bad it didn’t come together that way for the elder Dr. Paul.

      • “Thinking about it, maybe the masses that voted for the clown prince in 2016 felt disadvantaged by the theft from the free lunch sellers, and the such-as-it-is “disadvantaged” voted en masse.”

        Well, they are lucky the Republicans can’t so far, get anything passed in the Senate but, one day they will and those you “disadvantaged” will get what they voted for and frankly, what they deserve for voting the way they did.
        You know, you folks who keep defining the “free lunch” as, what Reagan used to code-call, “giving to the the Welfare Queens,” don’t have any problem voting for those who give a heck of a lot more of your tax money to the wealthiest in this country, both corporate and personal.

      • Some, but not all, perform such hypocrisy – hypocritically condoning free lunches “as long as it’s to MY side.” Some others – who are non-hypocrites – decry all governmental financial interference. The basic problem is that D.C. picks winners and losers, and the true solution would be to deny them their power to meddle with free functioning of markets. As Dr. Ron Paul would sagely state.

        IOW, I’m against printing money to pay individuals’ health care premiums, yet I’m also against printing money to pay Kaiser or Dupont or Raytheon. I’m against ANY subsidies or picking of winners and losers in the appropriations chow-down.

        Not every opposer of Progressive spending programs is a hypocrite in the other direction. Some believe something is wrong because it’s wrong – not because we’re not the selfish winner at the troth.

      • And as to the “eventual” ability of the Republican Congress to “unite” and do what they claimed they were elected to do, don’t kid yourself. They will never vote for less federal government. Neither side will – and never have (since the 18th century); they just play Good Cop, Bad Cop and make sure that the more-government vote wins. The only reason that they postured themselves as being against Obamacare was to play “Good Cop” when they were (effectively) in the minority (Obama’s veto made repeal impossible). Now they’ve revised the definition of Good Cop – for a few, enough to kill a majority – to mean “more Government to protect the little guy.” That’s your McCain vote. He’s not welshing on his duty; he’s just being a Good Cop, according to the serendipitously timed redefinition of “Good.”

        Neither of the 2 parties will vote to decrease the size of D.C. Don’t kid yourself.

        And the Democratic Congressional side is up to their eyeballs in financial incestry with corporations too, if we’re being honest.

        This is how it’s (practically) always been.

  2. Paul Krugman – destroying the planet, one step at a time. Along with his idiotic partner, NYT. Spend to oblivion, uh huh.

    And Paulie, you lying P. O. S., Obamacare is an abysmal failure. It was forged in dishonesty and you’re still doing it.

    And as to zombies – Google
    Paul Krugman Calls Off The Fake Alien Invasion

    Krugman is not only a lying shill, he’s insane.

    P.S. He and Obama have Nobels – the most embarrassing prize of the century. That kind of says it all.

    • I watched the original interview. The first, three words he uttered were “If we discovered…” As he further explained, the alien-invasion-as-a-catalyst-for-action was a loose reference to a “Twilight Zone” episode. Insane? Hardly!

      • Krugman will answer to your face that an earthquake is economically beneficial. Exactly like an alien invasion. He is the living, breathing embodiment of the broken glass fallacy.

        The broken glass fallacy which Krugman is mentally retarded in its grasp goes something like this: if someone smashes in a storekeeper’s window, Krugman reasons, that a window repairman benefits, and that’s only the beginning of the economic bonanza. Enter the multiplier effect in Krugman’s demented cluelessness: the repairman goes to the butcher and buys a roast. The butcher takes that money and buys shoes. The shoemaker …etc., etc. Krugman calls this win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win.

        Only Paul Krugman, and his silent partner the United States Government (especially military), and his partner in crime the New York Times, can sell such a tragically demented philosophy – that destruction of goods is economically beneficial because of its stimulatory benefit. I’m serious! I’m not making this up! EVEN WITH AN ALIEN INVASION.

        In fact, not only does he not recognize the initial loss (e.g the shopowner), and that there is a net economic drain by destruction, he regards it as a free lunch. It’s that multiplier, which in his peyote-stricken consciousness creates something from nothing. –>> It’s why he believes in Socialist printing of money – because it “pays for itself” with the multiplier effect. <<–

        I'm not making this up! His academic couching and reliance on "fallacy of authority" only fools a lot of the people a lot of the time. But underneath the perceived pomp and glamour of his utterances, his utter essential premise for EVERYTHING is stated above.

        And his (along with the Fed's) argument as such is pointed to by policymakers as the intelligent rationale for the calamitous, inevitably catastrophic printing of money.

        Insane? You tell me.

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