To: Paul Krugman
Subject: Re: Falling Into the Economic Chasm
When the tidal wave against big government politicians hits next week most pundits as you mention in this weeks column will indeed connect the election results to a backlash against an ideology of big government, excessive spending, and higher taxes. Despite your disagreement these pundits will be correct for making that connection. When I read your columns sometimes I feel as though your big “Nobel prize winning” head gets in the way of common sense and facts. I’d like to respond to two initial points you make.
1. You say that Obama pushed through “a health care plan very similar to past Republican proposals.” Sure I’ll concede that Obamacare reeks of the “Romneycare” system in Massachusetts. Unfortunately for your argument, Mitt Romney is a Republican who has flipped more times than an IHOP pancake. Additionally his government run health care program has been brutally attacked by advocates of free-market solutions and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. Pointing to one Republican’s somewhat similar health care reform is hardly proof that Obamacare is a “conservative” or republican idea. Obamacare is a big issue that is being opposed by the American public this election cycle. This is because the majority of people see this as a massive government run program that will further drive up deficits and reduce the quality of health care.
2. You also state that “A fiscal stimulus that consisted mainly of tax cuts, help for the unemployed and aid to hard-pressed states — was more conservative than his election platform.” Once again you try and peg Obama for not being liberal enough. While the stimulus plan may have ended up being smaller in scope than his election platform that does not mean the American public hasn’t realized that the stimulus has failed. Just because a plan is “more conservative” than an even more liberal proposal, does not make the stimulus plan fiscally conservative. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that two-thirds of Americans think that the stimulus was a waste.
As you have argued repeatedly in your New York Times column, you take President Obama to task because his policies were not grand enough in scale. In other words you don’t think that he spent enough taxpayer money. That is good op-ed material, but if you actually think the public feels the same way then there may be no hope for you down here on earth.
Despite lacking fancy economics awards or Phd.’s most people would probably be appalled by such an statement. Keep in mind the throngs of frustrated American’s stampeding to set off this tidal wave are not the heads of “evil corporations” or “right wing nut jobs” that you rail against. Instead these are tens of millions of people who have taken pay cuts or are struggling to find employment and are pinching pennies at home. These people realize that government should do the same. The people who are going to hand pink slips to a record number of politicians are not looking for more handouts from the government they are looking for government to leave them the hell alone!
This includes not raising taxes on individuals and businesses like the $3.1 trillion that will go into effect January 1st. It includes realizing that government continues to spend money they don’t have and that future generations are being indebted by these big government programs. And lastly they realize that it is entrepreneurs and an hard working citizenry that when left unobstructed by government can build businesses and help rebuild our nation’s economy.
In the end you are right that this is not a referendum against a certain party or one particular policy. It is a failure of those in power to successfully address our nations economic problems. Where you see the problem as being not enough government/spending/intervention the fact of the matter is that the nation is about to see a referendum that the real problem is that we have too much government, too high of taxes, and not enough liberty.
Budget & Tax Legislative Specialist
The Heartland Institute