Opinion | Why the 2020 Election Makes It Hard to Be Optimistic About the Future – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“The 2020 election is over. And the big winners were the coronavirus and, quite possibly, catastrophic climate change.

OK, democracy also won, at least for now. By defeating Donald Trump, Joe Biden pulled us back from the brink of authoritarian rule.

But Trump paid less of a penalty than expected for his deadly failure to deal with Covid-19, and few down-ballot Republicans seem to have paid any penalty at all. As a headline in The Washington Post put it, “With pandemic raging, Republicans say election results validate their approach.”

And their approach, in case you missed it, has been denial and a refusal to take even the most basic, low-cost precautions — like requiring that people wear masks in public.

The epidemiological consequences of this cynical irresponsibility will be ghastly. I’m not sure how many people realize just how terrible this winter is going to be.

Deaths from Covid-19 tend to run around three weeks behind new cases; given the exponential growth in cases since the early fall, which hasn’t slowed at all, this means that we may be looking at a daily death toll in the thousands by the end of the year. And remember, many of those who survive Covid-19 nonetheless suffer permanent health damage.

To be fair, the vaccine news has been very good, and it looks likely that we’ll finally bring the pandemic under control sometime next year. But we could suffer hundreds of thousands of American deaths, many of them avoidable, before the vaccine is widely distributed.

Awful as the pandemic outlook is, however, what worries me more is what our failed response says about prospects for dealing with a much bigger issue, one that poses an existential threat to civilization: climate change.

As many people have noted, climate change is an inherently difficult problem to tackle — not economically, but politically.

Right-wingers always claim that taking climate seriously would doom the economy, but the truth is that at this point the economics of climate action look remarkably benign. Spectacular progress in renewable energy technology makes it fairly easy to see how the economy can wean itself from fossil fuels. A recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund suggests that a “green infrastructure push” would, if anything, lead to faster economic growth over the next few decades.

But climate action remains very difficult politically given (a) the power of special interests and (b) the indirect link between costs and benefits.

Consider, for example, the problem posed by methane leaks from fracking wells. Better enforcement to limit these leaks would have huge benefits — but the benefits would be widely distributed across time and space. How do you get people in Texas to accept even a small rise in costs now when the payoff includes, say, a reduced probability of destructive storms a decade from now and half the world away?

This indirectness made many of us pessimistic about the prospects for climate action. But Covid-19 suggests that we weren’t pessimistic enough.

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Opinion | A Republican Senate Would Be Bad for Business – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“So the blue wave fell short of expectations. Joe Biden will be the next president, but unless Democrats pull off an upset in the Georgia Senate runoffs — which, to be fair, they might, given the remarkable strength of their organizing efforts there — Mitch McConnell will still be the Senate majority leader.

Big business seems happy with this outcome. The stock market was rising even before we got good news about prospects for a coronavirus vaccine. Corporate interests appear to imagine that they will flourish under a Biden presidency checked by Republican control of the Senate.

But big business is wrong. Divided government is all too likely to mean paralysis at a time when we desperately need strong action.

Why? Despite the vaccine news, we are still on track for a nightmarish pandemic winter — which will be made far worse, in human and economic terms, if a Republican Senate obstructs the Biden administration’s response. And while the economy will bounce back once a vaccine is widely distributed, we have huge long-term problems that will not be resolved if we have the kind of gridlock that characterized most of the Obama years.

First, the pandemic: With much of the public’s attention focused either on Donald Trump’s last-ditch efforts to steal the election or on hopes that a vaccine will let us resume normal life, I’m not sure how many people realize just how ruinous a prospect we’re facing for the next few months.

Over the past week, Americans have been dying from Covid-19 at the rate of more than 1,000 a day. But deaths typically lag a few weeks behind reported cases — and the daily number of new cases has doubled over the past three weeks. This means that we’re almost surely looking at 2,000 deaths a day at some point next month.

And the number of new cases is still rising exponentially, so things will get much, much worse over the months that follow, especially because until Jan. 20 we will, for all practical purposes, not have a president. By the time Biden is finally inaugurated we may well be having the equivalent of a 9/11 every day.

In addition to bringing death as well as long-term health damage for many survivors, the exploding pandemic will bring immense economic hardship. Responsible governors are imposing new lockdowns that may help curb the spread of the coronavirus, but that will also lead to a new wave of job losses.

True, some of the worst coronavirus outbreaks are now in states with irresponsible governors who won’t even impose mask mandates. But even in those states people can’t help noticing that friends and neighbors are dying and that the hospitals are full; they will cut back on their spending, leading to many lost jobs, even without political guidance.

What we need, clearly, is a very large-scale program of disaster relief, providing families, businesses and, not least, state and local governments with the help they require to avoid financial ruin until a vaccine arrives. And you might think that a Republican Senate would be willing to work with the Biden administration on such an obviously necessary program.

That is, you might think this if you’ve been hiding in a cave for the past 12 years.

Remember, Mitch McConnell’s famous declaration, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” came in October 2010, at a time of sluggish recovery and extremely high unemployment. Why expect him to be more cooperative, more willing to act in the national interest, when millions of dead-end Trump supporters are accusing establishment Republicans of stabbing their hero in the back?

Realistically, the most we can hope for is a stingy package that falls far short of what America needs. And I wonder whether Trump-fearing Republicans — who have offered remarkable profiles in cowardice as the soon-to-be ex-president makes wild claims about election theft — will be willing to agree to even that much.

The good news is that the misery will abate when we finally have widespread distribution of a vaccine. In fact, we’ll probably see a sharp jobs recovery late next year.

But that won’t be the end of the story. Before the coronavirus struck, America had low unemployment — but our short-term (and very unequally distributed) prosperity masked the extent to which we were neglecting our future. We desperately need to spend trillions on repairing our crumbling infrastructure, caring for our children and meeting the urgent need for action against climate change.

How much of that essential spending will a Republican Senate agree to? The best guess is zero. After all, McConnell blocked infrastructure spending even when Trump was in the White House and public investment could have helped keep him in office.

Now, what’s bad for America isn’t necessarily bad for corporations. But given where we are, divided government would mean paralysis in a time of crisis, which could very well be catastrophic for everyone. The truth is that even in its own interests, the big money should be rooting for Democrats in those Georgia runoffs.”

Opinion | What’s Not the Matter With Georgia? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

“Right now, we all have Georgia on our minds. It’s probably going to end up called for Joe Biden; his lead is razor-thin, but most observers expect it to survive a recount. And the January runoff races in Georgia offer Democrats their last chance to take the Senate.

Beyond the immediate electoral implications, however, the fact that Democrats are now competitive in Georgia but not in Ohio, which appears to have become Trumpier than Texas, tells you a lot about where America is heading. In some ways these changes in the electoral map offer reason for hope; but they also suggest looming problems for U.S. democracy.

How did Georgia turn faintly blue? As The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson wrote, in a phrase I wish I’d come up with, the great divide in American politics is now over “density and diplomas”: highly urbanized states — especially those containing large metropolitan areas — with highly educated populations tend to be Democratic.

Why this particular partisan association? Think about the longer-term political strategy of the modern G.O.P. Republican economic policy is relentlessly plutocratic: tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for everyone else. The party has, however, sought to win over voters who aren’t rich by taking advantage of intolerance — racial hostility, of course, but also opposition to social change in general.

But both living in large, diverse metropolitan areas and being highly educated seem to make voters less receptive to this strategy. Indeed, many big-city and highly educated voters seem repelled by G.O.P. illiberalism on social issues — which is why so many affluent Americans on the coasts back Democrats even though Republicans might reduce their taxes.

In practice, density and diplomas tend to go together — an association that has grown stronger over the past few decades. Modern economic growth has been led by knowledge-based industries; these industries tend to concentrate in large metropolitan areas that have highly educated work forces; and the growth of these metropolitan areas brings in even more highly educated workers.

Hence the transformation of Georgia. The state is home to greater Atlanta, one of the nation’s most dynamic metropolises, which now accounts for 57 percent of Georgia’s population. Atlanta has drawn in a growing number of college-educated workers, so that at this point the percentage of working-age adults with bachelor’s degrees is higher in Georgia than in Wisconsin or Michigan. So at some level it shouldn’t be surprising that Georgia apparently joined the “blue wall” in securing the presidency for Biden.

But if there’s one thing I hope Democrats have learned these past dozen years, it is that they can’t simply count on changing demography and growing social liberalism to deliver election victories. Red-state Republicans have fought tooth and nail to hold power — not by moderating their policies, but through gerrymandering and vote suppression. And Democrats need to do what they can to fight back.

Which is why Georgia’s blue shift is in one way a reason for hope.

Why, after all, did Biden win Georgia even as he was losing North Carolina, another relatively well-educated state with growing knowledge industries? The answer, in two words: Stacey Abrams.”

Opinion | The War on Truth Reaches Its Climax – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“I began writing a column for The Times way back in 2000. My beat was supposed to be economics and business. But I couldn’t help noticing that one of that year’s contenders for the presidency was systematically making false claims about his policy proposals. George W. Bush kept insisting that his one-percent-friendly tax cuts were targeted on the middle class, and his plan to privatize Social Security just wished away the system’s obligations to older Americans.

At the time, however, my editors told me that it wasn’t acceptable to use the word “lie” when writing about presidential candidates.

By now, though, most informed observers have, I think, finally decided that it’s OK to report the fact that Donald Trump lies constantly.

Many of the lies are trivial, often bizarrely so, like Trump’s repeated claims to have received an award that doesn’t even exist. But the president has closed out this year’s campaign with two huge, dangerous lies — and there’s every reason to fear that this week he will roll out a third big lie, perhaps even more dangerous than the first two.”

Opinion | After Trump, Will International Relations and Trade Ever Be the Same? – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“There are, I suppose, some people who still imagine that if and when Donald Trump leaves office we’ll see a rebirth of civility and cooperation in U.S. politics. They are, of course, hopelessly naïve. America in the 2020s will remain a deeply polarized nation, rife with crazy conspiracy theories and, quite possibly, plagued by right-wing terrorism.

But that won’t be Trump’s legacy. The truth is that we were already well down that road before he came along. And on the other side, if the Democrats win big, I expect to see many of Trump’s substantive policies reversed, and then some. Environmental protection and the social safety net will probably end up substantially stronger, taxes on the rich substantially higher, than they were under Barack Obama.

Trump’s lasting legacy, I suspect, will come in international affairs. For almost 70 years America played a special role in the world, one that no nation had ever played before. We’ve now lost that role, and I don’t see how we can ever get it back.

You see, American dominance represented a new form of superpower hegemony.

Our government’s behavior was by no means saintly; we did some terrible things, supporting dictators and undermining democracies from Iran to Chile. And sometimes it seemed as if one of our main goals was to make the world safe for multinational corporations.

But we weren’t a crude exploiter, pillaging other countries for our own gain. The Pax Americana arguably dated from the enactment of the Marshall Plan in 1948; that is, from the moment when a conquering nation chose to help its defeated foes rebuild rather than demanding that they pay tribute.

And we were a country that kept its word.

Image,  Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To take the area I know best, the United States took the lead in creating a rules-based system for international trade. The rules were designed to fit American ideas about how the world should work, placing limits on the ability of governments to intervene in markets. But once the rules were in place, we followed them ourselves. When the World Trade Organization ruled against the United States, as it did for example in the case of George W. Bush’s steel tariffs, the U.S. government accepted that judgment.

We also stood by our allies. We might have trade or other disputes with Germany or South Korea, but nobody considered the possibility that America would stand aside if either country was invaded.

Trump changed all that.

What, for example, is the point of a rules-based trading system when the system’s creator and erstwhile guardian imposes tariffs based on transparently bad-faith arguments — such as the claim that imports of aluminum from Canada (!) threaten national security?

How useful is America as an ally when the president suggests that he might not defend European nations because, in his judgment, they don’t spend enough on NATO?

Is America still the leader of the free world when top officials seem friendlier to nations like Hungary, where democracy has effectively collapsed — or even to murderous autocracies like Saudi Arabia — than to longstanding democratic allies?

Now, if Trump is defeated, a Biden administration will probably do its best to restore America’s traditional role in the world. We’ll start following trade rules; we’ll rejoin the Paris climate accord and rescind plans to withdraw from the World Health Organization. We’ll assure our allies that we have their backs, and rebuild alliances with other democracies.

But even with the best will in the world, this egg can’t be unscrambled. No matter how good a global citizen America becomes in the next few years, everyone will remember that we’re a country that elected someone like Donald Trump, and could do it again. It will take decades if not generations to regain the lost trust.

The effects may, at first, be subtle. Other countries probably won’t rush to confront a Biden administration. There might even be a sort of global honeymoon, as the world breathes a sigh of relief.

But the loss of trust in America will gradually have a corrosive effect. A trade expert once said to me that the great danger, if America turns protectionist, wouldn’t be retaliation, it would be emulation: If we ignore the rules, other countries will follow our example. The same will be true on other fronts. There will be more economic and military bullying of small countries by their larger neighbors. There will be more blatant election-rigging in nominally democratic nations.

In other words, even if Trump goes, the world will become a more dangerous, less fair place than it was, because everyone will wonder and worry whether the United States has become the kind of country where such things can happen again.”

I’m ready now to write about my recent posts, especially this one by Paul Krugman, and his comments section at the Times is closed. Most of the comments criticize Krugman, and see no good in US leadership. I agree with most of what Krugman says, especially about the importance of our leadership in foreighn trade rule setting, but I am more optimistic than Krugman about our ability to win back our allies. Our allies still need us, and we now know we need them more than ever. We can not afford to be the world’s policeman, and we have proven that we aren’t that good at it. But we have a huge role to play in leading the world towards a war on green house gas emmissions, and on dumping plastics and chemicals in our oceans and bodies of fresh water. I have many wishes for the new year, all of which include a Biden for President, working with a Democratic Senate and House. Just how we remove Bolsonaro from power in Brazil, and begin to protect the Amazon rainforest, is one of many details that depend on the outcome of tomorrow’s little election.

Opinion | Lies, Damned Lies and Trump Rallies – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“Donald Trump lies a lot. In fact, he lies so often that several media organizations try to keep a running tally, and even try to draw political inferences from fluctuations in the number of lies he tells in a given month (although the trend has been relentlessly upward).

But we’ve crossed some kind of threshold in the past few weeks. It’s not so much that Trump is lying more as that the lies have become qualitatively different — even more blatant, and increasingly untethered to any plausible political strategy.

Back in the day, Trump lies tended to be those like his repeated claims that he was about to unroll a health care plan that would be far better and cheaper than Obamacare, while protecting pre-existing conditions.

Those of us following the issue closely knew that there was no such plan, indeed that there couldn’t be given the logic of health insurance; we also knew that he had made the same promise many times, but never delivered.

But ordinary voters aren’t experts in health policy and might not have remembered all those broken promises, so there was at least a chance that some people would be fooled.

In a way, Trump’s claims to be the victim of a vast “deep state” conspiracy were similar. They were obvious nonsense to people familiar with how the government actually works. But many voters aren’t experts in civics, and the conspiracy theorizing — like his claims that all negative reports are “fake news” — helped shield him from awkward facts.

But Trump’s recent lies have been different.

On Tuesday the White House science office went beyond Trump’s now-standard claims that we’re “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus and declared that one of the administration’s major achievements was “ending the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Who was that supposed to convince, when almost everyone is aware not only that the pandemic continues, but that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging? All it did was make Trump look even more out of touch.”

Opinion | Trump Tells Coronavirus, ‘I Surrender’ – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“As we head into the final stretch of the election, Covid-19 is on a roll.

Coronavirus cases keep hitting records — among other things, five aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive. Hospitalizations, which lag behind cases, are soaring. And deaths, which lag even further behind, are starting to rise, too. Put it this way: Just between now and Election Day, we’re likely to lose almost twice as many Americans to Covid-19 as died on 9/11.

So how is the Trump administration responding? Actually doing anything about the pandemic is apparently off the table. What we’re getting instead is a multilevel public relations strategy: We’re doing a great job. Anyway, there’s nothing anyone can do. And besides, doctors are faking the numbers so they can make more money.

These are, of course, inconsistent stories, and the smearing of health care workers who put their lives on the line to save others is just vile. But none of this should surprise us.

This is, after all, Donald Trump. Also, we’ve seen this combination of denial, declared helplessness and conspiracy theorizing before: Trump and company are following the same strategy on Covid-19 that the right has long followed on climate change.

By now, almost everyone is familiar with the way Trump keeps moving the goal posts to claim success no matter how bad things get. Back in February he predicted zero cases “within a couple of days.” In the spring he said that it would go away when the weather got warmer. Lately he’s been claiming triumph because the coronavirus hasn’t killed 2.2 million people.

The administration was slower to admit that it was abjectly surrendering to Covid-19. But back in August Dr. Scott Atlas, a believer in “herd immunity” — basically letting the virus rip through most of the community — joined the White House coronavirus task force.

Atlas is a radiologist with no known expertise in infectious disease, and actual epidemiologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci are horrified by his ideas. But Atlas, not Fauci, appears to be calling the shots these days.

And on Sunday Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, made it more or less official, saying that “we are not going to control the pandemic” because it is a “contagious virus.”

Image: Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

This came after a rally in which Trump — who considers himself a victim because the media keep talking about “Covid, Covid, Covid” — claimed that coronavirus fatalities are being exaggerated because “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” if they say that Covid-19 was the cause of death.

All of these excuses sound very familiar to anyone who has followed the climate debate over the years. According to the right, climate change isn’t happening; anyway, there’s nothing we can do about it without destroying the economy; and it’s all a hoax concocted by a global conspiracy of scientists, who are just in it for the money.

That last bit is, of course, projection. No, the overwhelming scientific consensus that we’re experiencing man-made global warming isn’t being driven by financial incentives — but those who reject that consensus are.

At this point, climate denial is largely sustained by a network of right-wing think tanks supported by fossil-fuel interests; that is, the “experts” claiming either that global warming isn’t happening or that nothing can be done about it are basically professional deniers, who make a living as “merchants of doubt.”

And Covid denial, it turns out, isn’t just a similar phenomenon; it’s being conducted by pretty much the same people.

Atlas and other administration officials have reportedly been strongly influenced by the Great Barrington Declaration, a manifesto on behalf of herd immunity that grew out of a meeting at the American Institute for Economic Research. What do we know about this institute?

Well, it is, not surprisingly, linked to the Charles Koch Institute. And a perusal of its website reveals that until recently it devoted much of its time to climate denial, putting out articles with titles like “Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest.”

More recently, however, the institute’s focus has shifted to Covid denial. Last month, for example, it published an article lauding Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, whose refusal to take action against the coronavirus has turned her state into what the article called “a fortress of liberty and hope protected from the grasps of overbearing politicians.”

Since then, of course, South Dakota has experienced an explosion of infections and soaring hospitalizations, and is now seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 deaths.

Was there ever a chance that Trump would take the pandemic seriously? Probably not. After all, he has always been a die-hard, conspiracy-theorizing denier of climate change, and his coronavirus response has come straight out of the climate-denier playbook.

In any case, we can predict with high accuracy what he will do if the polls are wrong, and he wins a second term. He will do nothing at all to fight the pandemic; he will, however, try to suppress the truth about what’s happening. And many, many more Americans will die.”

Opinion |  – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

“After 2016, nobody will or should take anything for granted, but at this point Joe Biden is strongly favored to beat Donald Trump, quite possibly by a landslide. However, Trump’s party may still be in a position to inflict enormous damage on America and the world over the next few years.

For one thing, while Democrats are also favored to take control of the Senate, the odds aren’t nearly as high as they are in the presidential race. Why? Because the Senate, which gives the average voter in Wyoming 70 times as much weight as the average voter in California, is a deeply unrepresentative body.

And it looks as if a president who is probably about to become a lame duck — and who lost the popular vote even in 2016 — together with a Senate that represents a minority of the American people are about to install a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court.

If you want a preview of how badly this can go, look at what’s happening in Wisconsin.

In 2018, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor. A strong majority — 53 percent — also voted for Democratic legislators. But given the way the state’s districts are drawn, Democrats ended up with only 36 out of 99 seats in the State Assembly. And Wisconsin’s elected judiciary is also dominated by Republicans.”

“. . .  But I’d argue that the biggest threat this court will pose is to environmental policy.

Put it this way: Charles Koch is reportedly investing millions trying to get Barrett confirmed. That’s not because he’s passionately opposed to abortion rights, or, probably, even because he wants the A.C.A. overturned. What he’s looking for, surely, is a court that will block government regulation of business — and above all a court that will hamstring a Biden administration’s efforts to take action against climate change.

Sure enough, during her hearing, Barrett, asked about climate change, uttered the dreaded words, “I’m certainly not a scientist.” At this point everyone knows what that means. It’s not an expression of humility; it’s a signal that the speaker intends to ignore the science and to oppose any attempt to avert the biggest threat facing humanity.

It’s hard to overstate just how dangerous it will be if the power of the Supreme Court ends up being used to undermine environmental protection. Biden has made it clear that climate action will be at the core of his economic agenda. And this action would come not a moment too soon. We’re already starting to see the effects of global warming in the form of fires and floods, and if we waste the next few years it will probably be too late to avoid catastrophe.

In other words, if a G.O.P.-stacked Supreme Court blocks effective climate policy, it won’t just be an outrage, it will be a disaster, for America and the world. So that can’t be allowed to happen. Never mind all the talk about norms (which only seem to apply to Democrats, anyway.) What’s at stake here could be the future of civilization.”

Opinion | Bidencare Would Be a Big Deal – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

“On Monday morning America’s most prominent beneficiary of socialized medicine, in the process of receiving expensive, taxpayer-financed care at a government-run hospital, was tweeting furiously. One of President Trump’s manic missives particularly caught the eyes of health care experts: his exhortation to “PROTECT PREEXISTING CONDITIONS. VOTE!”

As always, it’s not clear whether Trump is merely being cynical or whether he is also genuinely ignorant.

He’s definitely lying when he claims to have a plan that’s better and cheaper than Obamacare. No such plan exists, and he has to know that.

But does he know that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions are already protected by the Affordable Care Act, which his administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn? Does he realize that the reason his party has never offered an acceptable alternative to the A.C.A., in particular an alternative that would protect pre-existing conditions, is that no such alternative is possible? That’s less clear.

In any case, how the nation votes will indeed make a huge difference to the future of health care — and not just because Trump, if he holds on to power, will almost surely find a way to destroy Obamacare, causing tens of millions of Americans to lose health insurance. Joe Biden, if he wins (and gets a Democratic Senate), will make a big difference in the other direction, substantially expanding coverage and reducing premiums for middle-class families.”

Opinion | Voting G.O.P. Means Voting Against Health Care – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Joseph Prezioso/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“If you or someone you care about are among the more than 50 million Americans suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, you should be aware that the stakes in this year’s election go beyond abstract things like, say, the survival of American democracy. They’re also personal. If Donald Trump is re-elected, you will lose the protection you’ve had since the Affordable Care Act went into effect almost seven years ago.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made this even more obvious. In fact, it’s now possible that coverage of pre-existing conditions will be stripped away even if Trump loses to Joe Biden, unless Democrats also take the Senate and are prepared to play serious hardball. But health care was always on the line.

Now, Trump denies this; like almost every other politician in his party, he keeps insisting that he has a plan to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. But he and they are lying. And no, that’s not too strong a term.

On Trump: In early August he promised that he would soon release a great health care plan to replace Obamacare, probably by the end of the month. We’ve heard nothing since, which isn’t surprising, since he has made and broken similar promises many times.”