I considered a different title (such as “More Tax Cuts and Deregulation, Tra La La!”) for this short post about Paul Krugman’s latest column.
Krugman’s own title is “Falling Into the Chasm.”
Here’s what he has to say:
“This is what happens when you need to leap over an economic chasm — but either can’t or won’t jump far enough, so that you only get part of the way across.
“If Democrats do as badly as expected in next week’s elections, pundits will rush to interpret the results as a referendum on ideology. President Obama moved too far to the left, most will say, even though his actual program — a health care plan very similar to past Republican proposals, a fiscal stimulus that consisted mainly of tax cuts, help for the unemployed and aid to hard-pressed states — was more conservative than his election platform.
“A few commentators will point out, with much more justice, that Mr. Obama never made a full-throated case for progressive policies, that he consistently stepped on his own message, that he was so worried about making bankers nervous that he ended up ceding populist anger to the right.”
Krugman — like all of us who are criticizing Obama for his too timid policies — still wants the President to succeed. We’re all in the same boat, after all.
” … the inadequacy of the stimulus has been a political catastrophe. Yes, things are better than they would have been without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: the unemployment rate would probably be close to 12 percent right now if the administration hadn’t passed its plan. But voters respond to facts, not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration’s policies have failed.
“The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.
“The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the alpha and omega of their economic vision.”
If Republicans — as generally expected — do make big gains in this midterm election, gridlock is what we’ll get … a recipe for more misery.
Read Krugman’s full article here.