Paul Krugman seems to be trying to expand his circle of enemies today by going after Democratic senators such as Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad for questioning the wisdom of a government-run health insurance plan. He’s particularly critical of Senator Nelson for suggesting that the so-called public option would harm private insurance plans, saying that the role of government is to protect Americans and not insurance companies. Krugman is supposed to be smart, so I’ll take the more charitable interpretation of his comment, which is that he’s deliberately misunderstanding the argument rather than being obtuse. People worried about the public plan forcing private companies out of business are concerned that Americans will lose private insurance options, and that the only choice remaining would be to use the government-run program. Even if you’re not worried that government plans will restrict access, you should be worried about the cost to the country of everyone being on the public plan should private insurance go away. On the other hand, maybe Krugman is not worried about this because that’s what he is hoping for.
— Tevi Troy, deputy secretary of health and human services from 2007 to 2009, is a visiting senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.