Paul Krugman: Health Care and Climate: President Obama’s Big Deals –

Paul Krugman

Several times in recent weeks I’ve found myself in conversations with liberals who shake their heads sadly and express their disappointment with President Obama. Why? I suspect that they’re being influenced, often without realizing it, by the prevailing media narrative.

The truth is that these days much of the commentary you see on the Obama administration — and a lot of the reporting too — emphasizes the negative: the contrast between the extravagant hopes of 2008 and the prosaic realities of political trench warfare, the troubles at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the mess in Iraq, and so on. The accepted thing, it seems, is to portray Mr. Obama as floundering, his presidency as troubled if not failed.

But this is all wrong. You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction.

First, health reform is now a reality — and despite a shambolic start, it’s looking like a big success story. Remember how nobody was going to sign up? First-year enrollments came in above projections. Remember how people who signed up weren’t actually going to pay their premiums? The vast majority have.

Rima NYT Comment SmallI wrote two comments today.

Click here for the full version my first comment:

Charles Blow has it right today:

“To be fair, his presidency, in many ways, has been hamstrung by opposition. In the wake of his ascension came the rise of the Tea Party, the incredible assertion by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, that conservatives’ top priority should be to keep Obama from being re-elected (that didn’t work out so well), the stunning assault on voter rights, the influx of conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers into the political arena, blatant gerrymandering after the last census and the unprecedented levels of obstruction by Republicans in Congress.

Click here for the full version of my second comment:

“The real question was whether he (with help from Nancy Pelosi and others) could make real progress on important issues.”

The Democratic leadership could have done more. It didn’t. When it came to saving millions of unemployed and putting their foot down when SNAP came up in the budget, they made a horrendous deal with Paul Ryan.

As the campaigns started, all the talk was about how Democrats were running from Obamacare, even as polls were reporting on overall satisfaction with Obamacare both from Democrats and Republicans.


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