Paul Krugman on Why the Difference Between the Two Parties Has Never Been So Stark


It has become popular in certain circles these days to say that there is no real distinction between the Democrats and Republicans. Paul Krugman begs to differ and, in light of Hillary Clinton's officially announced candidacy, lays out all the stark differences in Monday's column.

Krugman, like a lot of other people, is dreading the next 18 months of endless p"ersonality-based punditry," which is always dubious, and often wrong. His argument is that, "there has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less."

On the upside, each party is pretty well unified on just about every major policy issue, and far apart from each other, which may explain the complete inabilty to compromise. Per Krugman:

For example, any Democrat would, if elected, seek to maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act. Any Republican would seek to destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.

Any Democrat would retain the tax hikes on high-income Americans that went into effect in 2013, and possibly seek more. Any Republican would try to cut taxes on the wealthy — House Republicans plan to vote next week to repeal the estate tax — while slashing programs that aid low-income families.

Any Democrat would try to preserve the 2010 financial reform, which has recently been looking much more effective than critics suggested. Any Republican would seek to roll it back, eliminating both consumer protection and the extra regulation applied to large, “systemically important” financial institutions.

And any Democrat would try to move forward on climate policy, through executive action if necessary, while any Republican — whether or not he is an outright climate-science denialist — would block efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The best explanation Krugman can come up with for the huge chasm is economic inequality. Wealthy people are growing richer than everyone else at an exponential rate, and obscene amounts of wealth tend to pull people's politics to the right—far to the right. That in turn has pulled the Republican Party far to the right. The Democrats, Krugman argues, are a little less popular with big money than they used to be, because, "Wall Street, furious over regulations and modest tax hikes, has deserted the party en masse." 

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