Five Best Friday Columns

Jonathan Chait explains the "keep your plan" debacle, Alex Pareene on how to fix Obamacare, Greg Sargent on why Americans still want Obamacare, Alex Seitz-Wald on our outdated Constitution, and Paul Krugman on the GOP's "war on the poor." 

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Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer explains the Obamacare "keep your plan" debacle. People are upset over President Obama's broken "keep your plan" promise. But "the justifiable scrutiny of Obama’s veracity has melded seamlessly into a second and very different claim: That Obama’s broken promise is not merely a violation of trust, a fair enough charge, but an act of unfairness to those who have lost their plans," Chait explains. Of those Americans who don't get coverage through their employer or Medicare/Medicaid, 5 percent are insured. Some of that 5 percent will get less expensive insurance under Obamacare. But what about people whose premiums go up? Some of them might be mistaken: "A great many of the people who are happy with their individual health-insurance plan are happy only because they are unaware of its actual value." And some will have to pay more. In employer-based insurance, "people accept this transfer from the healthy to the sick because it is the only way to make medical care affordable to the sick. This is a simple mathematical truism." Bottom line? "If you believe the healthy are entitled to keep the financial benefits of their good health, then you must also believe the sick must be denied medical care. Should that principle be the foundation of our health-care system?" Health economist Austin Fraxt tweets, "w/ remarkable efficiency, @jonathanchait sums up the health debate du jour and delivers the sharp, moral question."

Alex Pareene at Salon on Obamacare's problems. "Nearly all the news Americans have seen regarding the rollout of the exchanges ... has been relentlessly negative," Pareene writes. "That’s bad news for the success of the law, and it’s also bad news for the liberal experiment. ... For most Americans, Obamacare is, so far, canceled plans and a nonworking website." Even if the website gets fixed by November, stories about people losing plans will dominate the news for months. "All of that is exactly why this is a dumb way to give people health insurance. ... [The ACA] will improve most of those people’s lives, but it will do so in a way that feels as coercive as possible." For Obamacare, "the ask should’ve been bigger." A government-oriented program as opposed to the market-based solution that Obamacare is would be much more straightforward. "So what is to be done? Democrats who aren’t Obama should already be working on easy-to-grasp proposals to 'reform' the ACA — to make it more public and less private." Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic tweets this line from the piece: "This is a program that, by design, is going to annoy literally millions of Americans immediately."

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post says Americans aren't ready to give up Obamacare. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new poll about Americans' feelings on the ACA. "The most important finding in the Kaiser poll — which is in some ways the gold standard of health care polling — is that significantly more Americans want the Affordable Care Act kept or expanded than want it repealed and replaced with a GOP alternative or with nothing at all," Sargent explains. Only 13 percent of Americans would replace Obamacare with a GOP alternative. "Ultimately, what this finding suggests is that, whatever their dissatisfaction with Obamacare, people do not want to return to the previous system, and perhaps more crucially, do not believe Republicans are offering a serious alternative." MSNBC's Alex Wagner recommends the post.

Alex Seitz-Wald at National Journal on blowing up the Constitution. "The Constitution simply isn't cut out for 21st-century governance. .... Put simply, we've learned a lot since 1787," Seitz-Wald writes. With government shutdowns and constant political fights, what if we looked to other countries to reform our system? "It seems un-American to look abroad for ways to change our sacred text, but the world's nations copied us, so why not learn from them?" he asks. "The American system was designed with plenty of checks and balances, but the Founders assumed the elites elected to Congress would sort things out. They didn't plan for the political parties that emerged almost immediately after ratification, and they certainly didn't plan for Ted Cruz." Matt Yglesias, the economics writer at Slate, jokes, "James Madison can't possibly survive this vicious @aseitzwald takedown of the US constitution."

Paul Krugman at The New York Times on the GOP's "war on the poor." "Republican hostility toward the poor and unfortunate has now reached such a fever pitch that the party doesn’t really stand for anything else — and only willfully blind observers can fail to see that reality," Krugman argues. Though the Tea Party is supposed to be about cutting the deficit, the rhetoric doesn't match:
"There’s not much about fiscal responsibility, but there’s a lot about how the government is rewarding the lazy and undeserving." And "all of this hostility to the poor has culminated in the truly astonishing refusal of many states to participate in the Medicaid expansion." Why do Republicans think this way? "If the market is always right, then people who end up poor must deserve to be poor." Further, "the stain that won’t go away: race." Ron Fournier, the editorial director at National Journal, tweets, "alt title: GOP's March Toward Irrelevancy."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.