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December 13, 2010


William Lane

You very greatly underestimate Mr. Krugman's influence. Don't you think that Obama reads his column? And don't you think that the tax deal that is now likely to pass Congress, and that is the third great stimulus since the beginning of the recession, was conceived with Paul Krugman's persistent proddings in mind? I think it's fair to say that, absent Paul Krugman, no one would have ventured to suggest such a deal.

Jim M

Exactly right. We have far too many inside-baseball columnists who know nothing about economics. At least Krugman can think straight, and he is courageous.
Besides, has anyone else been as right about so many things in the last disastrous ten years? Grant him a little sanctimony, and take it as the price of admission.

Brian Gulino

What an odd post. The country has an economic problem. A professional economist proposes a solution, "here's what we should do." Since you think what he is proposing is politically impossible, you think he should censor his views.

Say you take you care to the mechanic for repair. The care needs a new transmission. The mechanic observes you are wearing an old pair of shoes. Should the mechanic assume that you cannot afford a new transmission, and go on to replace your water pump?

Krugman can write about the possible effects of the alternative congress is considering, but that is another column.

Phil Perspective

But they do disagree with Dr. Krugman. How do you know what's truly possible? We don't. We just have to take their not very good word for it.


If we only consider what is "realistic," then we will achieve nothing.


Should we apply this same logic to climate scientists and have them scale back their recommendations for catastrophe aversion because everyone knows that the necessary actions are politically unfeasible?

The world needs more voices telling us how it is, and fewer self-censored voices constraining their ideas to the putative "art of the possible."

David Schraer

Love Obama, but:
1. He has not hired economists who have been correct in predicting the recent disaster.
2. He missed a huge opportunity to employ millions and inject billions into the bottom of the economy with a CCC-type effort in the wake of the BP disaster. The kind of effort Krugman would have lauded.


Krugman has studied the tactics of the other side, and what he has noted is that they stand by their beliefs and repeat them ad nauseum even when the political winds are blowing against them. They have stood behind their "government is bad, tax cuts are good" mantra for decades. And now it's accepted as a core bedrock principle among millions of people--even people who get screwed by this belief system.

Krugman has (correctly) noted that repetition and relentlessness are what it takes to create a change of mindset in this country. A lot of finger-in-the-wind Dems are uncomfortable with that. But he's fighting the good fight, political "realism" be damned.


It's called conviction.

And, yes, true conviction can be darned annoying. Especially at the I-told-you-so stage later on...


How else should he convince people? Only tell them what they already think?

Is his position impossible because, option 1, it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics or, option 2, only because not enough people agree with him?

Don't answer that...I'll tell you. It's option two. So he's trying to convince people. That's his job.

The other part of this is that the administration does not fight hard enough for anything, ever. So he's encouraging them to fight.

What Obama does is fight behind the scenes (and there's no actual proof he does this but lets assume) but in public he proclaims every compromise to be T3H AW3SOME! That's terrible, God awful, moronic, and insane.

If you want a $1.2T stimulus but think political reality dictates a $800B stimulus a good politician would still make sure everybody knows he wanted the $1.2T and that the $800B is inadequate but it was the best he could get out of the republicans. Then when it fails, as you expect, you have somebody to blame.

Instead Obama owns these crappy compromise positions, claims it'll cure rainy days, and he pays the political price when his compromises fail.

It's immensely stupid.

So Krugman is doing two things. He's trying to convince people and he's trying to get the administration to fight. He's right and you're wrong on both counts.

Lyle Richardson

Folks, it's obvious Krugman is right about what should be done. The problem, as Mr. Carpenter has taken great pains to point out in recent days, is that Obama really doesn't have much choice. He's now got to deal with a Republican Congress which will do whatever it can to obstruct him if he tries to "get tough", which would only result in gridlock, hurt the American people and potentially cost Obama the presidency in 2012.

He has to compromise. The fact he got what he did out of Republicans in this tax deal is noteworthy. The tax cuts for the rich meme can be revisited during the 2012 election. Relief for the unemployed and a second economic stimulus is needed now.

Of course it's easy for rich liberals or those with good paying jobs to insist Obama should "fight" and let the tax cuts die even at the cost of helping the unemployed. They're not out of a job now, are they? So they can afford to be sanctimonious.

If a recent poll by the Washington Post is any indicator, most Americans are siding with Obama on this one, proving he's got more of a handle on this issue than his critics on the left give him credit.

Lyle Richardson

Here's the link to the Washington Post poll I mentioned earlier. 69 percent of those polled prefer the deal even though only 11 percent favor the tax cuts for the wealthy.


yeah -- krugman should call up mitch mcconnell, ask him what compromise he'd be willing to accept, and then write a column about how that's the right thing to do.

that's a winning strategy for sure.


As a public intellectual and scholar, Krugman's commitment is to what he believes is true, not to what's politically feasible or expedient.


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