Paul Krugman (Reuters/Anton Golubev)

Paul Krugman blasts "Obamacare truthers": Why liberals shouldn't let conservatives get away with rewriting history

"Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life."


Scott Eric Kaufman
April 27, 2015 4:45PM (UTC)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman attacked his fellow pundits -- especially those on the right -- who refuse to acknowledge that the dire predictions they made about Obamacare and its effect on the American economy never came to pass.

He labeled them "Obamacare truthers," and noted that instead of being intellectually honest and admitting that they were wrong about the Affordable Care Act's economic impact, they are attempting to revise history by claiming, for example, that they always said that more people would be insured, and that the real issue has always been the quality of their new coverage.

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In an ideal world, Krugman suggested, strongly predicting disasters that never come to pass would lead the public to start ignoring any future predictions a pundit makes. However, because we choose to live in "an age of unacknowledged error," they are never punished for being wrong, no matter how gross or inflammatory the error.

It’s both easy and entirely appropriate to ridicule this kind of thing. But there are some serious stakes here, and they go beyond the issue of health reform, important as it is.

You see, in a polarized political environment, policy debates always involve more than just the specific issue on the table. They are also clashes of world views. Predictions of debt disaster, a debased dollar, and Obama death spirals reflect the same ideology, and the utter failure of these predictions should inspire major doubts about that ideology.

And there’s also a moral issue involved. Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life. It rises to the level of real wrongdoing when policies that affect millions of lives are at stake.

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Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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