While comparing Romney's Fantasy Econ League to Obama's modest but real agenda that might "accelerate the recovery already under way," Krugman notes a common dread:
Mr. Obama may not be as bold as we’d like, but he isn’t actively misleading voters the way Mr. Romney is. Furthermore, if we ask what Mr. Romney would probably do in practice ... it looks like a program that might well derail the recovery and send us back into recession.
Chief among Romney's intended derailment measures would be the shafting of the shiftless 47 percent--those minimum-wage schemers, for instance, clever enough to luxuriate in the splendors of non-income-taxing jobs, or disabled veterans and great-grandparents now notoriously grifting on V.A. hospitals and Medicare.
Yet Republican primary voters have insisted on keeping a Democratic Senate in place, which would, almost unquestionably, obstruct Romney's "sharp cuts in programs that aid the less well-off," as Krugman fears.
The more realistic alternative of a Romney presidency is much worse, and it is this alternative, from what scuttlebutt I've read, that keeps Obama up at night.
As many (if not most) mainstream economists are predicting, 2013 will witness a more rapidly accelerating recovery than did 2012 (largely because of taller and greener shoots in the housing market, already quite visible) and 2014 will outperform 2013, and so on. This, despite the GOP's best efforts to disfigure any recovery and inflict maximum pain. Obama's early measures--most notably the stimulus program and the auto bailout--were enough to kickstart an upswing; and though he wanted to do more when their positive effects plateaued, he in fact did what he could do. The result: slow but durable economic improvements that will, over the next four years, snowball into a fuller recovery.
For which a President Romney would take full credit.
And that sure as hell would keep me--as the presidential guy who actually did the heavy lifting--up at night. Wouldn't it you?