Medicine Versus Consumerism
April 27, 2011
In response to Paul Krugman's column about how medicine is not a consumer good, Will Wilkinson retorted: This is a pretty picture, but it's also a problem—a problem economists generally help us to see through. The policies that publicly express good will and mutual respect—that successfully broadcast that we care about one another—often are not the policies that would actually deliver the goods—the policies you'd favour if you cared more about people than signaling that you care about people.
The Mythical Obama Spending Binge
April 26, 2011
The notion that the Obama administration has presided over a massive spending binge has been repeated so often that the administration doesn't even bother denying it anymore. Spending has shot up as a percentage of GDP. But, as Paul Krugman explains, virtually the entire phenomenon is an automatic response to the recession rather than any policy change.
Medicine Is Not a Consumer Good
April 22, 2011
Conservatives frequently argue that the solution to our health care problems lies in consumer power. If only we could free the system of government interference, consumers would shop more aggressively for medical care, forcing the providers, producers, and third-party payers of such care to compete for the business.
Should Doctors Be Medical Merchants?
April 21, 2011
There are a lot of ways in which medicine defies the market logic that dictates the supply of other goods. Paul Krugman identifies a rarely mentioned one: Medical care is an area in which crucial decisions — life and death decisions — must be made; yet making those decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge; and often those decisions must also be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping. That’s why we have medical ethics.
Why Do Paul Krugman And David Brooks Hate Each Other?
April 19, 2011
David Brooks, in his column last week, bemoaned the failure of President Obama and Paul Ryan to meet over lunch and get to understand each other: President Obama and Paul Ryan are two of the smartest, most admirable and most genial men in Washington. It is sad, although not strange, that in today’s Washington they have never had a serious private conversation.
April 04, 2011
-- Jon Cohn introduces the GOP's health care apostates. -- Paul Krugman spots train-hater George Will on the train. -- Bill Turque misunderstands the meaning of "naive."
Reminder to GOP: Privatization Adds Costs
April 04, 2011
Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman make an important point about the Republican proposal for Medicare, one worth keeping in mind as it become the focus of debate this week. Based on what House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has said, the final plan (to be released tomorrow) will call for transforming Medicare from a government-run insurance plan into a system of competing private plans, from which beneficiaries will choose. But simply switching from public to private insurance doesn't actually make Medicare more efficient. If anything, the very opposite is true.
A Senior Moment for Republicans
April 04, 2011
Based on what we know so far, the Republican plan for Medicare would appear to be one part hypocrisy and one part con. Republicans have spent much of the last two years attacking President Obama and the Democrats for cutting Medicare spending, as part of the Affordable Care Act. Now those same Republicans appear to be proposing cruder, deeper cuts that would, for all intents and purposes, destroy the program. That's the hypocrisy. And the con? That would be the ability of Republicans to hold the allegiance of senior citizens.
April 01, 2011
-- My latest TRB, on the right's love of for-profit schools. -- Jonathan Cohn on the end of "compassionate conservativism" -- Justin Wolfers and Paul Krugman team up to demolish John Taylor. -- The latest GOP fashion: pro-child labor laws.
Jonathan Cohn, Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, and Matthew Yglesias all marvel at the Republican view that (in Klein's phrase) Medicare and Medicaid cannot use studies measuring the effectiveness of different medical treatments when deciding what to cover or not cover. Yglesias formulates an explanation revolving around self-interest: I see two ways in which it can be rendered coherent, albeit repugnant. One is basically the “welfare state for me, but not for thee” of old people.