The only thing wrong with Paul Krugman’s column today is that he doesn’t mention David Brooks by name. But you can see Brooks in every inch of this critique of whiny Republicans who, when challenged on their nonsense, retreat to the higher moral ground of calling their opponents “uncivil.” Krugman hits on this strategy, which essentially is one of working the refs. It allows Republicans to say basically whatever they want in public, and when called on it, they turn from aggressors to martyrs against the big, bad, mean left. As he said in a blog post earlier this week, this is what people do when they know they’ve been beat.
I especially enjoyed Krugman’s broadside against the Heritage Foundation, which provided the dishonest numbers underneath Paul Ryan’s budget proposal:
When the proposal was released, it was praised as a “wonk-approved” plan that had been run by the experts. But the “experts” in question, it turned out, were at the Heritage Foundation, and few people outside the hard right found their conclusions credible. In the words of the consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers — which makes its living telling businesses what they need to know, not telling politicians what they want to hear — the Heritage analysis was “both flawed and contrived.” Basically, Heritage went all in on the much-refuted claim that cutting taxes on the wealthy produces miraculous economic results, including a surge in revenue that actually reduces the deficit.
By the way, Heritage is always like this. Whenever there’s something the G.O.P. doesn’t like — say, environmental protection — Heritage can be counted on to produce a report, based on no economic model anyone else recognizes, claiming that this policy would cause huge job losses. Correspondingly, whenever there’s something Republicans want, like tax cuts for the wealthy or for corporations, Heritage can be counted on to claim that this policy would yield immense economic benefits.
Krugman also takes on this notion of bipartisan solutions, which has a particular meaning these days. “Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution,” he writes.
Basically, Krugman endorses a full debate on fiscal policy, with legitimate numbers, unencumbered by the conventions of civility and without this fake notion of bipartisanship where the midpoint between two solutions is automatically the wisest course.
In other words, he’s a very unserious person.