Author: Scott Eric Kaufman
In his column on Monday, Paul Krugman tackled the problem that the GOP candidates in last week’s first presidential debate couldn’t — the fact that President Barack Obama’s signature policy, the Affordable Care Act, is an overwhelming success.
It was only mentioned nine times during the debate, which is — depending on how you tally efforts to defund and repeal it — at least 45 fewer times than Republicans have voted to dismantle it. There was a good reason that the candidates skirted the issue, Krugman said, and that’s because “[o]ut there in the real world, none of the disasters their party predicted have actually come to pass.”
“President Obama just keeps failing to fail,” he continued, and the fact that more people are insured, and that they are, “by and large, please with their coverage,” means that Republicans can’t go after the program and have any chance of winning the general election.
Republicans love to talk about how liberals with their environmentalism and war on coal are standing in the way of America’s energy future. But there was only a bit of that last week — perhaps because domestic oil production has soared and oil imports have plunged since Mr. Obama took office.
What’s the common theme linking all the disasters that Republicans predicted, but which failed to materialize? If I had to summarize the G.O.P.’s attitude on domestic policy, it would be that no good deed goes unpunished. Try to help the unfortunate, support the economy in hard times, or limit pollution, and you will face the wrath of the invisible hand. The only way to thrive, the right insists, is to be nice to the rich and cruel to the poor, while letting corporations do as they please.
According to this worldview, a leader like President Obama who raises taxes on the 1 percent while subsidizing health care for lower-income families, who provides stimulus in a recession, who regulates banks and expands environmental protection, will surely preside over disaster in every direction.
But he hasn’t. I’m not saying that America is in great shape, because it isn’t. Economic recovery has come too slowly, and is still incomplete; Obamacare isn’t the system anyone would have designed from scratch; and we’re nowhere close to doing enough on climate change. But we’re doing far better than any of those guys in Cleveland will ever admit.