Donald Trump was blasted for his economic policies by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman — who worries it just might work to get the president reelected.
“It may have slipped by you, but last week Donald Trump suggested that he may be about to give U.S. farmers — who have yet to see any benefits from his much-touted trade deal with China — another round of government aid,” Krugman wrote in The New York Times. “This would be on top of the billions in farm aid that Trump has already delivered, costing taxpayers several times as much as Barack Obama’s auto bailout — a bailout Republicans fiercely denounced as ‘welfare’ and ‘crony capitalism’ at the time.”
“If this sounds to you like a double standard — Democratic bailouts bad, Republican bailouts good — that’s because it is. But it should be seen as part of a broader pattern of breathtaking fiscal hypocrisy, in which the G.O.P. went from insisting that federal debt posed an existential threat under Obama to complete indifference to budget deficits under Trump. This 180-degree turn is, as far as I can tell, the most cynical policy reversal of modern times,” he explained.
“And this cynicism may win Trump the election,” he warned.
Krugman noted, “what’s driving the U.S. economy now is the very deficit spending Republicans pretended to be horrified by during the Obama years.”
“Trump inherited a $600 billion deficit; he’s blown that up to $1 trillion — and hardly a single Republican in Congress has expressed dismay,” he explained.
Krugman offered advice for Democrats on how to combat the GOP position.
“So how can Democrats run against Republican fiscal hypocrisy? Not by warning about the dangers of deficits — that’s both wrong on the substance and politically ineffective, because nobody cares,” he noted.
“They might do better by pointing out that while Trump has rushed to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, he has been shortchanging the future. Ignoring his campaign promises, he has done nothing to raise much-needed spending on infrastructure. And despite its obvious indifference to budget deficits, his administration seems determined to deprive children of the adequate health care and nutrition they will need to become productive adults,” he explained.
Krugman also urged Democrats to ignore deficit-hawks.
“And there’s an important lesson for Democrats going beyond this election — namely, how to deal with what I’ve called the Very Serious People, centrists who spent years insisting that government debt was the most important issue of our time (and also believing, or pretending to believe, that Republicans were sincere in their supposed concern about debt),” Krugman wrote. “The V.S.P.s have gone oddly silent under Trump — funny how that works — but they’ll surely be back if Democrats retake the White House. But they have no idea what they’re talking about, and never did. If and when they re-emerge, Democrats should ignore them.”
Read the full column.
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