Paul Krugman: House Republicans’ economics are as 'divorced from reality' as their election lies
On Friday night, January 6, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California finally overcame a major obstacle: He got enough far-right MAGA Republicans to vote in favor of making him House speaker. A total of 14 roll-call votes had found McCarthy being repeatedly rejected for that position; on the 15th vote, McCarthy finally made it past the finish line.
McCarthy had to jump through countless hoops and make a lot of promises in order to get the MAGA holdouts, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, to vote for him. And many Democrats have been warning that House Speaker McCarthy is now indebted to the most extreme members of his party.
In an opinion column published by the New York Times on January 6, liberal economist Paul Krugman argues that McCarthy “seems set to be speaker in name only” — which is Krugman’s way of saying that far-right MAGA conspiracy theorists, during the next two years, will have more influence in the House than McCarthy himself. Those MAGA Republicans, according to Krugman, believe “a number of untrue things.” And that includes things about the U.S. economy.
“Many, perhaps most, believe that the 2020 election was stolen, or at least that Joe Biden is somehow not the legitimate president,” Krugman observes. “Many believe that COVID vaccines do more harm than good, a belief that has contributed to thousands of excess deaths among Republican partisans. Quite a few either subscribe to or are at least friendly to beliefs of the QAnon cult, which claims that the world is run by a vast conspiracy of pedophiles. And just about all of them, again as far as I can tell, believe that the U.S. economy is in terrible shape, with the federal government at great risk of going bankrupt.”
Krugman goes on to describe “the current state of the U.S. economy” as one in which “inflation has been coming down” and unemployment remains how.
“There wasn’t a recession in 2022,” Krugman notes. “Indeed, the U.S. economy ended the year with continuing strong job growth, and the unemployment rate all the way back down to what it was before COVID…. As usual, the GOP is insisting that the budget can and must be balanced entirely by cutting spending. And as usual, this insistence runs up against the reality that spending cuts that big would be politically impossible…. Other than military spending — only a small fraction of which, even now, goes to defending democracy in Ukraine — federal dollars mainly go to retirement and health care programs on which scores of millions of Americans, including many Republicans, depend.”
Krugman continues, “So, the new House majority is living in a fantasy world, insisting on a completely unworkable solution to a largely imaginary crisis. Unfortunately, as we learned on January 6, 2021, political fantasies can have dire real-world consequences.”
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