[Posted by Karl]
On Sunday, after making the oh-so-parochial admission that he usually does not bother looking at the Washington Post [Epistemic closure alert! -K] , NYT columnist (and former Enron advisor) Paul Krugman took issue with Dana Milbank’s praise for Obama in standing up to other progressives angry at his proposed bipartisan tax deal:
This is a hopeful sign that Obama has learned the lessons of the health-care debate, when he acceded too easily to the wishes of Hill Democrats, allowing them to slow the legislation and engage in a protracted debate on the public option. Months of delay gave Republicans time to make their case against “socialism” and prevented action on more pressing issues, such as job creation. Democrats paid for that with 63 seats.
Krugman thinks that is an Orwellian rewrite of history:
Um, that’s not what happened — and I followed the health care process closely. The debate over the public option wasn’t what slowed the legislation. What did it was the many months Obama waited while Max Baucus tried to get bipartisan support, only to see the Republicans keep moving the goalposts; only when the White House finally concluded that Republican “moderates” weren’t negotiating in good faith did the thing finally get moving.
There are at least two problems with Krugman’s claim. First, the Baucus “Gang of Six” started their deliberations on June 17, 2009. The Gang was essentially done by September 8, 2009. That’s less than 3 months. Once you consider the Senate was in recess from August 10 through September 7, Krugman’s “many months” turns out to be barely “months.”
Second, during those “many” months, someone was telling us the fate of ObamaCare was being undermined by relatively conservative House Democrats and centrist Democratic senators who opposed (or wanted to water down) the proposed government-run insurance plan:
And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure.
Someone wrote that on June 22, 2009 — less than a week after the Gang started meeting. That someone did not work for the Washington Post and presumably does not live in the “Village” Krugman thinks is inventing a narrative about the intra-party struggle over the so-called “public option.” Indeed, that someone, who claims to have followed the debate closely, seems to forget the Senate bill later almost died when Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid tried inserting the government-run plan into it, only to be met with a filibuster threat from Sen. Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats. That someone is engaging in the all-too-Orwellian tactic of rewriting history to his liking, ignoring not only his past admissions that the delay was caused by fighting within the otherwise ample Democrat majorities, but also that those evil centrists were correct all along that there were not enough votes in the Senate for a government-run insurance plan.