Nobel economist Paul Krugman explains how the GOP's ‘breathtaking fiscal hypocrisy’ might win Trump reelection
The Republican Party has a long history of railing against Democrats whenever they raise taxes or increase government spending but aggressively defending GOP presidents who add to the federal deficit, whether it’s George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump. Liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column, points out how inconsistent the GOP can be when it comes to deficits and bailouts — and cites President Trump’s farm bailouts as an example of how that hypocrisy might help him win a second term in November.
Krugman notes that under the Trump Administration, billions of dollars have been set aside for American farmers who are hurting financially and “have yet to see any benefits from his much-touted trade deal with China” — and another round of government assistance to farmers is a strong possibility.
“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,” Krugman explains. “If this sounds to you like a double standard — Democratic bailouts bad, Republican bailouts good — that’s because it is.”
Showing “breathtaking fiscal hypocrisy,” Krugman adds, the GOP “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. And this cynicism may win Trump the election.”
The U.S. economy, according to Krugman, is “strong” but “not as strong as (Trump) claims” — and the thing that is “driving the U.S. economy now,” he observes, “is the very deficit spending Republicans pretended to be horrified by during the Obama years.” Under Trump, Krugman stresses, Republicans have abandoned “fiscal austerity” — for example, billions of dollars set aside for farm bailouts — but that “hypocrisy” could benefit Trump politically in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats, Krugman advises, shouldn’t try to combat Trump by campaigning against deficits, but they can attack him on behalf of those who are hurt by the president’s economic policies.
According to Krugman, Democrats “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.”