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Contra Paul Krugman, Obamacare Is Not an Example of the 1 Percent Losing

Congra Krugman, the ACA was at best a 1% vs 1% internal spat that resulted in some scraps falling off the table

In his recent column about inflation Paul Krugmancites the Affordable Care Act of proof that good policy can prevail against the rich:

Now, I don’t think that class interest is all-powerful. Good arguments and good policies sometimes prevail even if they hurt the 0.1 percent — otherwise we would never have gotten health reform. But we do need to make clear what’s going on, and realize that in monetary policy as in so much else, what’s good for oligarchs isn’t good for America.

If the law resembled real reform, like adopting single-player, you might be able to make this argument but pretending the Affordable Care Act was some victory of strong arguments or good policy against the one percent is just silly.

While the law did modestly raise taxes on some upper income individuals, it also funneled huge amounts of government and private funds to some of the largest corporations in America. Requiring people to buy private insurance gave these completely useless corporate middlemen more consumers and large government subsidies. Expanding coverage with private insurance also assures hospitals and drug companies get unjustifiably large reimbursement rates from this increase in their business.

The ACA was at best a 1 percent vs 1 percent internal spat that resulted in some scraps falling off the table. Far from being a victory of good arguments it was the perfect expression of the neoliberal idea that the only way to get things done is effectively bribing enough of the rich, even if it means idiotic policy design. This is why the law had so much support from the richest corporate players. If the ACA really hurt the 0.1 percent why did one of the most profitable corporate sectors — drug makers — spending millions to help it pass?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at