Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Paul Krugman on the Obama budget:

... The important thing, I think, is that he has effectively given up on the idea that the government can do anything to create jobs in a depressed economy. In effect, although without saying so explicitly, the Obama administration has accepted the Republican claim that stimulus failed, and should never be tried again.

What's extraordinary about all this is that stimulus can't have failed, because it never happened. Once you take state and local cutbacks into account, there was no surge of government spending....

And yet the failure of the stimulus that never happened has become conventional wisdom....

Barack Obama's place in history? I think he's going to be remembered as the guy who was to liberalism, as we've known it since FDR, what Mikhail Gorbachev was to the Soviet system. He's the guy from inside the system who presided over its dismantling.

I still think he doesn't mean to be Gorbachev -- I don't buy what I call the "Manchurian candidate" view of Obama, which is that he's really a Republican and that his goal all along has been to get us precisely to where we are now. If that were the case, why even bother with the (inadequate) stimulus and the (compromised) health care plan, the (slow) high-speed rail systems and the (baby-step) moves toward green energy? Why bother to put himself through all that grief, all those personal attacks, all that rage from Fox and talk radio and the tea party? Why not just show up on 1/20/09, say, "We have more will than wallet," and just start being an unabashed, unapologetic Republican from Day One? Who would have risen up in protest to make his life truly difficult? Liberals? Give me a break. If you accept the notion that this is all well-planned-out Kabuki theater, you have to explain one thing: Why pursue a fake semi-liberalism when that alienates people who (unlike liberals) can really threaten him with serious harm?

No -- he's just a really, really bad choice for a moment when right-wingers are dragging the Overton window to the right even faster than usual. He's just innately inclined to believe that the right course is midway between liberalism and wherever the right is at the moment. And right-wingers keep the latter very much a moving target -- moving farther and farther right as fast as humanly possible. And that's borne fruit for them: Keynesian is now discredited in America, across the political spectrum, for the foreseeable future.

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