« Links for 11-12-2012 | Main | Republicans Shift Stance on Taxing Wealthy? »

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paul Krugman: Hawks and Hypocrites

Using deficit fears to shred the social safety net:

Hawks and Hypocrites, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Back in 2010, self-styled deficit hawks ... took over much of our political discourse. At a time of mass unemployment and record-low borrowing costs, a time when economic theory said we needed more, not less, deficit spending, the scolds convinced most of our political class that deficits rather than jobs should be our top economic priority. And now that the election is over, they’re trying to pick up where they left off.
They should be told to go away. ...
Recent events have ... demonstrated clearly what was already apparent to careful observers: the deficit-scold movement was never really about the deficit. Instead, it was about using deficit fears to shred the social safety net. And letting that happen wouldn’t just be bad policy; it would be a betrayal of the Americans who just re-elected a health-reformer president and voted in some of the most progressive senators ever.
About the hypocrisy of the hawks: as I said, it has been evident for years. Consider the early-2011 award for “fiscal responsibility” that three of the leading deficit-scold organizations gave to none other than Paul Ryan. ...Mr. Ryan’s alleged plans to reduce the deficit were obvious flimflam... But in the eyes of the deficit scolds, his plan to dismantle Medicare and his savage cuts to Medicaid apparently qualified him as a fiscal icon. ...
And then there’s the matter of the “fiscal cliff.”
Contrary to the way it’s often portrayed, the looming prospect of spending cuts and tax increases isn’t a fiscal crisis. It is, instead, a political crisis brought on by the G.O.P.’s attempt to take the economy hostage. ...
I don’t know how seriously to take the buzz about appointing Erskine Bowles to replace Timothy Geithner. But ... let’s recall his record. Mr. Bowles ... has indulged in scare tactics, warning of an imminent fiscal crisis that keeps not coming. Meanwhile, the report he co-wrote was supposed to be focused on deficit reduction — yet, true to form, it called for lower rather than higher tax rates, and as a “guiding principle” no less. Appointing him, or anyone like him, would be both a bad idea and a slap in the face to the people who returned President Obama to office.
Look, we should be having a serious discussion about America’s fiscal future. But a serious discussion is exactly what we haven’t been having these past couple years — because the discourse was hijacked by the wrong people, with the wrong agenda. Let’s show them the door.

    Posted by on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 12:24 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (96)

          


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.