Paul Krugman weighs in on the extremely shocking statistic that pregnant Texan women have seen a doubling of their mortality rate in recent years:
The economic case for being cruel to the unfortunate has lost whatever slight credibility it may once have had. Yet the cruelty goes on. Why?
A large part of the answer, surely, is the usual one: It’s about race. Medicaid expansion disproportionately benefits nonwhite Americans; so does spending on public health more generally. And opposition to these programs is concentrated in states where voters in local elections don’t like the idea of helping neighbors who don’t look like them.
Unsurprisingly, the states where people suffer the most are Republican voting ones. Krugman notes that:
States with consistently conservative governments generally offered benefits to as few people as the law allowed, sometimes only to adults with children in truly dire poverty. States with more liberal governments extended benefits much more widely. These policy differences were one main reason for a huge divergence in the percentage of the population without insurance, with Texas consistently coming in first in that dismal ranking.
Does this mean red states are more racist than blue states? While Krugman doesn't say this explicitly, the implication is clear -- Republican voters (think white people) are less likely to want to help people who don't look like them, and consequently elect leaders who enact cruel policies that severely harm the poor and most vulnerable people in society (think minorities). In Texas, for example, African American women are "bearing the greatest risk for maternal death".
But Krugman also thinks this doesn't have to be the case:
Most Americans are, I believe, far more generous than the politicians leading many of our states. The problem is that too many of us don’t vote in state and local elections, or realize how much cruelty is being carried out in our name.
In other words, if you want to save lives, stop electing Republicans at all levels of government. Because even if you are a little racist, no one wants to see pregnant women dying.