When Republicans talk about reducing the size of government, what does that really mean?:
We Don’t Need No Education, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Hope springs eternal. For a few hours I was ready to applaud Mitt Romney for speaking honestly about what his calls for smaller government actually mean.
Never mind. Soon the candidate was being his normal self, denying having said what he said... In the remarks Mr. Romney ... derided President Obama: “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Then he declared, “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” ...
For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters). ...
But the more relevant question for the moment is whether the public job cuts Mr. Romney applauds are good or bad for the economy. And we now have a lot of evidence ... that austerity in the face of a depressed economy is a terrible mistake to be avoided if possible.
And the point is that in America it is possible ... to reverse the job cuts that are killing the recovery: have the feds, who can borrow at historically low rates, provide aid that helps state and local governments weather the hard times. That, in essence, is what the president was proposing and Mr. Romney was deriding. ...
Actually, it’s kind of ironic. While Republicans love to engage in Europe-bashing, they’re actually the ones who want us to emulate European-style austerity and experience a European-style depression.
And that’s not just an inference. Last week R. Glenn Hubbard..., a top Romney adviser, published an article in a German newspaper urging the Germans to ... continue pushing their hard-line policies. In so doing, Mr. Hubbard was ... throwing his support behind a policy that is collapsing as you read this.
In fact, almost everyone following the situation now realizes that Germany’s austerity obsession has brought Europe to the edge of catastrophe — almost everyone, that is, except the Germans themselves and, it turns out, the Romney economic team.
Needless to say, this bodes ill if Mr. Romney wins in November. For all indications are that the his idea of smart policy is to double down on the very spending cuts that have hobbled recovery here and sent Europe into an economic and political tailspin.