5 Best Monday Columns

Did you hear about this health care bill?

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  • Paul Krugman on the Politics of Fear  While other columnists are celebrating the passage of health care reform with retrospectives and predictions, the New York Times columnist turns a critical eye to the narrative of the health care opposition. Krugman looks past the death-panel claims and racial epithets of the right-wing fringe to a more serious trend of fear-mongering in the Republican establishment:
It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson — whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president — pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives ... On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
  • Phil Keisling on Primary Reform  In a guest turn at The New York Times, Oregon's former Secretary of State argues that the traditional rites of primary season confer "disproportionate power to the shrillest and most mean-spirited of our partisans." Keisling suggests we scrap primaries entirely and adopt a system where voters choose from a wide-open field of preliminary candidates--including multiple candidates from the same party--and, come November, vote for one of the top two finalists. Such a system, says Keisling, "would reward candidates who work, from Day 1, to appeal openly and forthrightly to the broadest group of voters."
  • David Paul Kuhn on Democrats' White Flight  Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Kuhn, a political correspondent for RealClearPolitics, considers the thinning ranks of white American men who identify as Democrats or supporters of Obama. In Kuhn's view, these plummeting numbers have everything to do with a sluggish economy: millions of out-of-work white male voters "once believed in Obama. Now they feel forgotten." Kuhn sees a huge Republican upset in 2010 if the Democratic Party doesn't take pains to show that it cares about revitalizing the job market.
  • George Will on Reforming Education  The Washington Post columnist scorns Education Secretary Arne Duncan's pledge to address civil rights inequalities in public schools. "Plainly put, the best predictor of a school's performance is family performance -- qualities of the families from which the students come," he argues. Will has no qualms about delving into the socioeconomic reasons for test score disparities. 
Government can do next to nothing about family structure, which is why it is pointless for Duncan to suggest that "access" is why "the door to college still does not swing open evenly for everyone." It will not so swing as long as 71.6 percent of African American children and 51.3 percent of Latino children are born to unmarried women.
  • The Wall Street Journal on Health Care's Dark Future  With health care reform passed by the House, the Journal editors condemn the vote and reel off a litany of negative consequences soon to come. Among these millstones are "turmoil in the insurance industry," "a wave of consolidation," and "higher premiums." For anyone looking to complain about health care in the future, the Journal points them to the left. "When prices rise and quality and choice suffer, the fault will lie with ObamaCare."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.