Paul Krugman blasts Republicans for ‘bad faith’ economic plan that insults struggling Americans
Economist Paul Krugman (screengrab)

New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman denounced the Republican Party's counter-proposal to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus proposal on Monday.

Writing in his column, Krugman called it a "bad faith" negotiation that "insults" Americans desperate after a year of struggling through the pandemic.

The Republican Party's plan would strip Biden's by two-thirds, leaving about $618 billion for the relief package. The plan would slash checks to Americans down to $1,000 and it would only go to low-income Americans making under $40,000 a year. The weekly unemployment insurance would be extended to June 30.

In a statement introducing the package on Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) website, the senators said they "recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis."

Krugman disagreed, calling it "grotesquely inadequate." It's arguably out of step with the overwhelming majority of the country (74 percent) who support the Biden proposal.

"Beyond that, by their behavior — not just over the past few months but going back a dozen years — Republicans have forfeited any right to play the bipartisanship card, or even to be afforded any presumption of good faith," he wrote.

While the end of the tunnel is in sight, there's still a ways to go. Until late summer, when Americans are expected to reach enough vaccinations to meet herd immunity, the country will remain in the kind of "half" lockdown most states have implemented.

"This isn't an offer of compromise; it's a demand for near-total surrender. And the consequences would be devastating if Democrats were to give in," Krugman explained.

Biden said that he was absolutely willing to negotiate with Republicans on the package and the end result will likely be somewhere between the significantly lower pitch from the GOP and the White House. But Krugman noted that it's hard to even negotiate in good faith with the GOP when most of the party doesn't even recognize Biden as the legitimate president.

While the GOP might argue that Biden promised bipartisanship, press secretary Jen Psaki explained that it's clear that Republicans and Independents already support the bill, as evidenced by the 74 percent approval cited by Hill pollsters. She also explained that Republican Gov. Jim Justice (WV) came out Monday in support of Biden's full package, making the case that when the house is on fire you don't haggle over the price of the garden hose.

"Trying to be per se fiscally responsible at this point in time with what we've got going on in the country if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?" said Justice. "I absolutely believe we need to go big."

It's unclear if other Republican governors agree with Justice, but the Republicans' nickel and dime approach hasn't been enough for some states facing budget shortfalls as revenue collections plummeted in 2020.

Krugman also attacked Republicans for suddenly pretending that they care about the deficit after adding $7.8 trillion to the national debt under Trump's administration. It's the third-largest deficit run by a president, after George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom ran deficits to fight wars. The GOP, Krugman explained, abandoned their ability to dispute deficit increases ever again.

"In short, everything about this Republican counteroffer reeks of bad faith — the same kind of bad faith the G.O.P. displayed in 2009 when it tried to block President Barack Obama's efforts to rescue the economy after the 2008 financial crisis," Krugman closed. "Obama, unfortunately, failed to grasp the nature of his opposition and watered down his policies in a vain attempt to win support across the aisle. This time, it seems as if Democrats understand what Lucy will do with that football and won't be fooled again."

He said that Biden should "get it done" with or without GOP support, because that's what Americans need right now.

Read the full column at the New York Times.