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Economist Paul Krugman: Republicans have no solutions for the huge problems the US faces in 2021

Image via CNN Screengrab.

When Republican presidential candidates lost to Democrats in the past — President Herbert Hoover in 1932, Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964, President Gerald R. Ford in 1976, President George H.W. Bush in 1992, Sen. John McCain in 2008 — the GOP looked ahead and asked: OK, where do we go from here? It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump will be reelected in November or if former Vice President Joe Biden will become the next president of the United States, but liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that whatever the outcome in the 2020 presidential election, the GOP is acting as though 2021 does not exist.


Krugman, in his September 14 column, explains, “Nobody knows for sure who will win in November. Joe Biden holds the advantage right now, but between the vagaries of the Electoral College and whatever October surprises the Trumpists cook up — you know they’re coming — who knows? One thing that’s clear, however, is that Republicans — not just Donald Trump, but his whole party — are acting as if there’s no tomorrow. Or, more precisely, they’re acting as if there’s no next year.”

Republicans, according to Krugman, are failing badly when it comes to thinking ahead — whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic, the “wildfires ravaging western states” like California and Oregon or the state of the U.S. economy. Those crises, Krugman notes, can inflict long-term damage on the United States.

Krugman argues, “The most striking demonstration of Republican refusal to think ahead is the fact that nothing has been done to alleviate either the suffering of unemployed Americans — who lost much of the benefits that were sustaining them at the end of July — or the looming fiscal crisis of state and local governments…. It’s as if Republicans don’t expect to win, and they figure that if they do, they’ll deal with the mess somehow.”

The Times columnist goes on to note that “traditionally, departing administrations try to smooth the path for their successors.” But if Trump loses in November, Krugman stresses, one shouldn’t expect the Republicans of 2020 to be anything other than hostile to Biden.

“Suppose that Biden wins — which isn’t a safe assumption — and that he does so without Trump and his supporters generating a hugely disruptive constitutional crisis, which is definitely not a safe assumption,” Krugman writes. “Even so, there will still be two months during which Republicans hold both the White House and the Senate.”

Krugman adds that “if Biden is inaugurated on January 20,” he will “be the second Democratic president in a row to inherit a nation in crisis, but this time, one much worse than the one facing Barack Obama” after he took office in 2009.

“Things will be better if Democrats take the Senate as well as the White House, but Biden will still face constant obstruction,” Krugman warns. “My guess is that whatever they say today, Democrats will eventually be forced to eliminate the filibuster, simply to make the nation governable. The point is that while a Biden victory —  if it happens — will save American democracy from immediate collapse, it won’t cure the sickness that afflicts our body politic.”

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