Ron Fournier Attacks Paul Krugman, Embarrasses Self

by Isaac Chotiner | May 5, 2014

I know it's cruel to pick on people who are ill, but in Ron Fournier's case an exception must be made. Fournier is currently ailing from a condition known as bipartisanship (medical name: vacuousness), which manifests itself when another person expresses a thought that can be deemed partisan.

For example, on Monday Paul Krugman wrote a column castigating Republicans for releasing a biased report on whether people were paying their Obamacare premiums. (TPM: "Nearly 40 percent of Obamacare enrollees signed up after March 15—which means their first premium wasn't due until after the committee finished collecting its data.") Krugman scolded the GOP and expressed outrage that the Party was so dishonest.

The effect of this was to trigger one of Fournier's symptoms: writing silly responses to people like Krugman. Fournier begins by agreeing with Krugman's contention that the GOP is dishonest. And then he predictably adds: 

But the columnist undermines his argument by leaving out important context: His friends at the White House skew the truth, too.

Presumably this should lead to Fournier explaining how the White House has skewed the truth. But:

The GOP would have no excuse to release a biased survey had the White House bothered to conduct one of its own. Instead, the Obama administration has insisted beyond the limits of plausibility that it cannot obtain paid-policy numbers from insurance companies. They must think we're pretty stupid. You don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner to know that the White House can call insurance companies as easily as congressional staff. This lack of transparency (from what President Obama promised would be the most transparent administration in U.S. history) undercuts the administration's "8-million-enrolled" victory lap.

Fournier provides no evidence that the White House could get accurate figures, and in any case it's failure to do so is not an example of "skewing the truth." Moreover, there will presumably be accurate figures after the end of May, which is when people who enrolled will have to pay up. And insurance companies are publicly claiming they aren't worried, as Jonathan Cohn points out. The White House could (and should) have come up with some premature estimates, but they would have merely been estimates. (I can only imagine Fournier's response if the White House had released premature guesses that turned out to be wrong.)

If Fournier's post does provide anything helpful, however, it is another window into his worldview. He writes, near the end:

I can hear the blowback already: "False Equivalence!" Well, no; I'm not arguing that GOP skewing is equal to the Democratic skewing. That would be stupid. But what makes even less sense is thinking that the Democratic Party will thrive in the years ahead by lying and spinning a bit less than the GOP. There is no pride in being the least-worst party.

No pride? Really? Thank God we don't live in a country with a two-party system.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//article/117651/ron-fournier-attack-paul-krugman-and-obamacare