What Krugman Said

Paul Krugman hits a home run in today’s column:

But if politicians who insist that the way to reduce deficits is to cut taxes, not raise them, start winning elections again, how much faith can anyone have that we’ll do what needs to be done? Yes, we can have a fiscal crisis. But if we do, it won’t be because we’ve spent too much trying to create jobs and help the unemployed. It will be because investors have looked at our politics and concluded, with justification, that we’ve turned into a banana republic.

Of course, flirting with crisis is arguably part of the plan. There has always been a sense in which voodoo economics was a cover story for the real doctrine, which was “starve the beast”: slash revenue with tax cuts, then demand spending cuts to close the resulting budget gap. The point is that starve the beast basically amounts to deliberately creating a fiscal crisis, in the belief that the crisis can be used to push through unpopular policies, like dismantling Social Security.

Anyway, we really should thank Senators Kyl and McConnell for their sudden outbursts of candor. They’ve now made it clear, in case anyone had doubts, that their previous posturing on the deficit was entirely hypocritical. If they really do have the kind of electoral win they’re expecting, they won’t try to reduce the deficit — they’ll try to make it explode by demanding even more budget-busting tax cuts.

In many ways, the fighting that is going on now about taxation, stimulating spending, and the deficit is a good reminder that while these are big questions, the largest question is why Democrats continue to operate under the assumption that Republicans are good faith partners in governance. Doing so only reveals them to be totally ignorant of the reality they exist in, but acting with the expectation that Republicans were bad faith participants in their jobs, would likely damage precious comity on the Hill. Moreover, actually saying in public that the GOP does not care about Americans (as members of government are elected to serve and protect the American public) would probably cause their world to end.

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