Krugman vs. Kristol: Republicans Don't "Understand Anything" About Obamacare

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill, let me begin with you. If we were to have been here two months ago, who would have thought a shutdown was possible. But all of the leaders, Republican leaders in the House and Senate against it, yet it's happening?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, these people are electing individually. They're not elected to rubber stamp decisions by Speaker Boehner or by Leader McConnnell. So, they have decided they would like to delay the implementation of a bad law, that is in fact the president himself has had to delay parts of it.

If we were sitting here 11 months ago, though, and the Republicans were in total disarray, Romney had lost, very demoralized party, I think it's impressive with what the Republicans have done. And the Republican House deserves credit for -- the Republican House deserve credit for it.

The party has rallied. The party is doing fine in the polls. The congressional ballot is about even. President Obama has not succeeded, except for that tax hike on the wealthy they had to give him right at the beginning. He's not succeeded in getting his legislation passed, which is a good thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But isn't a shakedown going to backfire?

KRISTOL: Not necessarily if it's a day or two or three. There have been shutdowns throughout the last 25 years. As you know, they don't always backfire.

It's a little delicate. But look, it's why not delay at least parts of Obamacare for a year?

KRUGMAN: Because it's the signature achievement. Its funny--

KRISTOL: Is that a good reason? A political reason like that?

KRUGMAN: It's a good thing. It happens in fact to be a very good law. One of the things I think that's going on here is just a failure on the part of the Republican caucus to actually understand anything about this thing. That they, you know, not they, they haven't done the policy. They haven't understood.

In fact almost all of the substantive news about Obamacare over the last couple of months has been good. The premiums are coming in well below expectations. Healthcare costs are moderating. Probably there will be some technical glitches with computer systems. But those are not fundamental. So actually people who support this law are looking forward, they're actually almost hearing, I think, the preliminary results.

So the odds are that this is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. Why not put it into effect now?

KRISTOL: Should the president delay the employer mandate?

KRUGMAN: The employer mandate was--

KRISTOL: Wait should he? Yes or no?

KRUGMAN: Yeah actually because--

KRISTOL: But not the individual mandate.

KRUGMAN: They are completely different--

KRISTOL: Business gets the delay but individuals don't.

KRUGMAN: That's what I'm talking about, this policy ignorance. Not understanding. That the employer mandate is basically a trivial add-on to the law. While the individual mandate is essential to that. You don't understand that. You don't understand--

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