Krugman on Health Care:

Roger Kimball (via Instapundit) properly mocks Krugman's claim that angry opposition to the Democrats' health care "reforms" is a product of racism. But Krugman also includes a logical fallacy, to wit:

There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they "oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care." Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

This would only be telling if Green had asked, "how many of you would prefer if Medicare were not run by the government?" Otherwise, it's the equivalent of going to a room full of radical libertarians and asking, "how many of you are opposed to government owning and operating roads?" Everyone raises his hand. "Okay, how many of you use the roads?" It's not like if you're of Medicare age, you have some sort of feasible way of opting out of the government-run health care system.

Although we don't know the views of the seniors singled out by Krugman, there are undoubtedly many seniors who want to keep their Medicare benefits and also oppose further government involvement in the private part of the health care system. And why not? Currently, they get heavily-subsidized care, and as much of it as they want, with no rationing, and "wasteful" private insurance helps subsidize the training of their doctors and medical innovations that will prolong or improve their lives. Pundits are finally starting to notice something that was obvious to me from the start: the Democrats' plans are not just an assault on the private part of the current health care system, but on Medicare as well. Medicare desperately needs an overhaul, but I don't see the Democrats expending the huge amount of political capital it would take to persuade seniors of that. Instead, having defanged the AARP, they seem to have hoped nobody would notice. But after two decades of the Democrats sensitizing seniors to the slightest "threat" to Medicare, the better to get reelected, the Democrats aren't going to fool politically active seniors so easily.

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UPDATE: Commenter Thorley Winston adds: I can think of at least four reasons why seniors on Medicare would oppose Obamacare:

  1. The proposal to cut reimbursement rates even further means that more doctors won't take Medicare or Obamacare patients.

  2. Destroying or severely reducing the private health insurance markets ends the subsidy for Medicare patients which means that they can expect to pay more, receive less, or both.

  3. Right now there is at least some commonality in Medicare patients due to their age even if they have some variations in their medical needs and wants which gives them a disproportionate amount of clout when it comes to protecting their subsidy. If they get lumped in through Obamacare with younger and presumably healthier patients, they risk forming a countervailing coalition of subsidy recipients with competing needs and wants which threatens the ability of seniors to get what they want.

  4. Younger seniors especially can still benefit from new innovations in medical technology which are one of the primary cost-drivers in our health care system. Slowing the innovation and adoption of new medical technology ("supply rationing") is one of the easiest ways of slowing the rate of growth of health care costs because to paraphrase Obama health care advisor Gregory Bloche "people don't complain if they don't get new treatments that haven't been invented yet."