Here We Go Again

I agree with Paul Krugman’s substantive analysis but frankly I couldn’t be further away from him on mood:

Like Atrios, I am not looking forward to this. It’s going to be just like the Social Security fight, only worse: once again, Very Serious People will pretend not to notice that the Republican plan is a giant game of bait-and-switch, dismantling a key piece of the social safety net in favor of a privatized system, claiming that this is necessary to save money, but never acknowledging that privatization in itself actually costs money. And we’ll have endless obfuscation, both-sides-have-a-point reporting that misses the key point, which is that the putative savings come entirely from benefit cuts somewhere in the distant future that would, in all likelihood, never actually materialize. (What do you think will happen when retirees in 2025 discover that their Medicare vouchers aren’t enough to buy insurance?)

Here’s the thing — the Social Security fight was a huge success! And not just a success for progressives, it was a success for the progressive blogosphere. I sometimes get sad about the fate of the new media revolution, but this is a time that once again harkens back to the new media’s strengths. There’s an ability to be speedy, an unwillingness to play these VSP games, and an ability to connect wonkier writers with more activist oriented ones, with expert analysis.

For example, you might be wondering about this notion of cutting Medicaid spending. Maybe Medicaid is a wasteful boondoggle. Maybe the marginal family would actually be better off buying health insurance out of pocket rather than relying on it. But no! As you can see courtesy of this CBPP chart, Medicaid is actually a highly efficient way of delivering health care services to children and adults alike. Before the blogging age, you’d never know that. But today you do, and you should share that information with your friends and coworkers.

Of course this doesn’t mean that cutting Medicaid won’t save money. It very well might. Thanks to Paul Ryan some families who can currently afford to take their kids to see the doctor won’t be able to take their kids to see the doctor. That will reduce aggregate health care expenditures and increase aggregate “kids get sick and die” nationwide. Of course a lot of kids who get sick and don’t get treated won’t die. It’s not as if the death rate from illness and accidents was 100 percent in the era before modern health care. People just suffer and life goes on. And with the extra budgetary headroom created, rich people can pay lower taxes and buy more really expensive refrigerators.

This is just to say that as a progressive blogosphere I think the Social Security fight was Our Finest Hour, and I’m proud to have been a part of it, and eager on a personal level to wade back into the fields of battle.