And Now, the Overreach Begins

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 9, 2012

Shorter Paul Krugman: “Republican election victories were the product of court-approved gerrymanders only. Democratic election victories were the product of the people exercising their voices and had nothing whatsoever to do with gerrymanders that favored Democrats. Don’t make a deal with Republicans on the fiscal cliff. If the economy tanks, that’s fine as long as Republicans get blamed for it and as long as it hurts their constituencies.”

I challenge you to find how that summary is inaccurate in any important way.

In any event, while it is certainly revealing that an economics professor/Nobel Prize winner/New York Times columnist with a more-than-comfortable salary and with no prospects of getting fired from any of his jobs (alas) is willing to advocate a recession that will slam and devastate people still struggling to get out from under the last one, it is just as revealing that only three days after the election, Democrats and their sympathizers are getting ready to overreach politically.

Here’s hoping they reap the whirlwind and soon. Anyone deranged and cynical enough to blithely recommend sending an already weak economy into yet another tailspin deserves as much.

  • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

    I honestly find it difficult to find a single material aspect of Krugman’s analysis that your exegesis gets right. But let me start with what I see as the two most conspicuous misstatements (since if we can’t come to agreement on those, there’s probably little point on moving on to subtler errors):

    1. Your Krugman: “If the economy tanks, that’s fine as long as Republicans get blamed for it and as long as it hurts their constituencies.”

    Actual Krugman: “[T]he looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession. [¶] Nobody wants to see that happen.” (My emphasis.)

    2. Relatedly, you go on to state that Krugman “advocate[s] a recession.” But Krugman does something close to the opposite—he argues that a recession is unlikely: “It’s worth pointing out that the fiscal cliff isn’t really a cliff. It’s not like the debt-ceiling confrontation, where terrible things might well have happened right away if the deadline had been missed. This time, nothing very bad will happen to the economy if agreement isn’t reached until a few weeks or even a few months into 2013. So there’s time to bargain.”

    • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

      Krugman: “Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy.” (My emphasis.) He goes on to say “More important, however, is the point that a stalemate would hurt Republican backers, corporate donors in particular, every bit as much as it hurt the rest of the country.”

      Funny how you quoted none of these statements, which go to show that Krugman is willing to risk damage to the economy, that he is setting the stage for blaming Republicans for any failure to come to an agreement before the fiscal cliff is reached, and that he is fine with going over the fiscal cliff as long as Republicans get blamed for it. The quotes make clear as well the economy may well be damaged, even though at other points in his editorial, Krugman tries to downplay any damage. The fact that he backtracks in other segments of his editorial from the above quotes means that at best, Krugman failed to edit his piece for consistency. But it doesn’t mean that I read his political message wrong.

      • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

        What’s “funny” is how you didn’t even try to confront the clear statements from Krugman I did quote . Nothing you’ve quoted supports your statement that Krugman thinks causing damage to the economy is “fine,” or that he “advocate[s] a recession.”

        To say that Krugman is “willing to risk damage to the economy” is obviously just to change the subject. All parties involved are willing to take that risk. That’s why there’s a negotation about the fiscal cliff. But being willing to risk damage to the economy is, quite obviously, not the same thing as “advocating” for damage to the economy, and not the same thing as saying “no one” wants to “see that [damage] happen.” These are not subtle points, Pejman.

        Last word’s yours if you want it.

        • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

          Nonsense. I did confront them and stated in response that “[t]he fact that [Krugman] backtracks in other segments of his editorial from the above quotes means that at best, Krugman failed to edit his piece for consistency. ” And the quotes I provided make it clear that he is fine with seeing damage to the economy so long as Republicans get blamed for the damage. When Krugman says Obama should hang tough “even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy,” he is advocating policies that may well lead to a recession. How that materially differs from “advocating a recession” is anyone’s guess.

          And you’re right. These are not subtle points.

          • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

            Remarkable. Well, the argument is submitted.

          • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

            I guess I can’t have the last word if a snide “remarkable” has to come after my comment.

          • http://www.strangedoctrines.com Michael Drake

            Fixed.

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