January 18, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Just the Flacks: Wonkblog sells out.

Ezra Klein is back in line. The Journolist founder, who now runs Wonkblog for the Washington Post, took some flak from other left-liberal journalists last year when he acknowledged that the ObamaCare exchanges had serious technical flaws. But now, as we move into Phase 3 of the ObamaCare failure–the unraveling of its economic assumptions–Klein and his wonkblogger staff are full denial.

One result has been an entertaining and informative set of rebuttals from the heterodox liberal blogger Mickey Kaus. It began with a Dec. 17 post by Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff with the less-reassuring-than-intended title “Why Obamacare Won’t Spiral Into Fiery, Actuarial Doom.” She quoted a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that claimed the age distribution of ObamaCare enrollees is not as important as people have been assuming: “Even if young people sign up at half the rate the administration hopes for, it would nudge premiums up only by a few percentage points, their report says.”

In his somewhat belated response (posted just this past Monday), Kaus cited the same study making a point this column has also been stressing: “that if the mix of young vs. old isn’t important”–a not-undisputed “if,” by the way–“the mix of healthy vs. sick might be.” . . .

And how’s that going? There’s no way to know for sure, because, as Kaus notes, “questions about health aren’t being asked of enrollees anymore.” Under ObamaCare, disease is the silent killer.

“If you’re going to call yourself ‘Wonkblog,’ ” Kaus asks, “shouldn’t you at least mention that the statistics you are so obsessively discussing aren’t the important ones?” In response, Wonkblog was silent. Why should they answer rhetorical questions?

In concept, a “wonk” is someone who cares so much about the details of policy, in an obsessive nerd-like fashion, that his/her obsession transcends partisan considerations. Such people are rare, but they do exist. Ezra Klein is not among them, nor has he ever been.

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