Krugman Exposes the True Roots of Trump's Ignorance

Donald Trump's ignorance is hardly unique, although he does bring a new spin and certain pizzazz to it. "In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally," Paul Krugman writes Monday.

When Trump unveiled his long awaited concrete plans to make America great again last week, it sounded a lot like "running the country like a failing casino," Krugman continued. "He could, he asserted, 'make a deal' with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out."

The absurd proposal was generally met with "amazed horror and horrified amazement . . . The Trump solution would, among other things, deprive the world economy of its most crucial safe asset, U.S. debt, at a time when safe assets are already in short supply."

Trump is an easy target, though. Krugman is really after the source of his truly terrible ideas,which are not as original as you might think.

Firstly, where does he get the idea that America is facing a debt crisis? Even this baseline assumption is based on a fallacy, Krugman argues. Investors are still lending America money at very attractive interest rates, and federal interest payments are a mere "1.3 percent of G.D.P., or 6 percent of total outlays."

Indeed, the only reason Trump is even talking about the debt as this looming crisis is that far more "serious-sounding people" keep talking about it that way, people like oh-so-serious House Speaker Paul Ryan. Warning about the debt has always been politically motivated, and primarily about scaring Americans into cutting badly needed entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. Trump must not have heard about that on the Internet.

As for the irresonsibility of the suggestion that America just walk away from its obligations, that's not exactly original either. Krugman:

Remember, the party’s congressional wing deliberately set about extracting concessions from President Obama, using the threat of gratuitous default via a refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

And quite a few Republican lawmakers defended that strategy of extortionby arguing that default wouldn’t be that bad, that even with its access to funds cut off the U.S. government could “prioritize” payments, and that the financial disruption would be no big deal.

Trump, Krugman concludes, is just offering a more "bombastic version" of dangerous positions that are already widely shared in his party.

Maybe not as much of an anti-establishment candidate after all.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.