Economy

Paul Krugman Obliterates Paul Ryan's Stubborn Economic Ignorance

Not even the looming "Trumpocalypse" is causing "respectable Republicans" to reexamine their wrong-headed assumptions.

The looming Trumpocalypse has distracted everyone from the deeply damaging denial of economic reality that is pervasive in the "respectable" wing of the Republican Party, Paul Krugman writes on Monday.

Take Paul Ryan, Krugman suggests, the man previously "lionized as the epitome of the Serious, Honest Conservative — never mind those of us who actually looked at the numbers in his budgets and concluded that he was a con man."

In a recent interview with John Harwood, Ryan, who we are likely stuck with as Speaker of the House, demonstrates what he has learned about in recent years: nothing, says Krugman,

Like just about everyone in the Republican establishment, Mr. Ryan is in denial about the roots of Trumpism, about the extent to which the party deliberately cultivated anger and racial backlash, only to lose control of the monster it created. But what I found especially striking were his comments on tax policy. I know, boring — but indulge me here. There’s a larger moral.

You might think that Republican thought leaders would be engaged in some soul-searching about their party’s obsession with cutting taxes on the wealthy. Why do candidates who inveigh against the evils of budget deficits and federal debt feel obliged to propose huge high-end tax cuts — much bigger than those of George W. Bush — that would eliminate trillions in revenue?

And economics aside, why such a commitment to a policy that has never had much support even from the party’s own base, and appears even more politically suspect in the face of a populist uprising?

But here’s what Mr. Ryan said about all those tax cuts for the top 1 percent: “I do not like the idea of buying into these distributional tables. What you’re talking about is what we call static distribution. It’s a ridiculous notion.”

Krugman calls "the income mobility zombie," another one of those conservative supply-side ideas that refuses to die, like trickle down.

The myth of economic mobility feeds on statistics that show that people in the top 1 percent move in and out of it from one year to the next. This misleading information is based on the small amount of people who make $350,000 one year and $450,000 the next. That's a pretty small group of people, and cutting taxes for them is not going to help very many Americans.

Krugman points out that he debunked Ryan's argument almost 25 years ago, and yet here Ryan is, still making it. What's new is Trump, and how mainstream Republicans find him so very appalling. But are they any less appalling, any less impervious to reality? And nothing seems to jolt them out of it. Krugman writes:

This is why you shouldn’t grieve over Marco Rubio’s epic political failure. Had Mr. Rubio succeeded, he would simply have encouraged his party to believe that all it needs is a cosmetic makeover — a fresher, younger face to sell the same old defunct orthodoxy. Oh, and a last-minute turn to someone like John Kasich would, in its own way, have similar implications.

Krugman concludes that Trump might at least offer a chance of a "cleansing shock."

The scary part is that he might also become president.

  

 

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