Why is Paul Krugman Misrepresenting the Demise of a Wall Street Funded, Right Wing, Entitlement-Bashing Front Group?

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Paul Krugman’s partisanship has become so shameless that we are giving him the inaugural Eric Schneiderman Decoy Award for his post “Things Fall Apart“. The Schneiderman Decoy Award goes for exceptional achievement in turning one’s good name over to particularly rancid Obama Administration initiatives.

Krugman’s post didn’t merely contain some cringe-making fawning over Obama; it was egregiously incorrect on the development that prompted the post, that of the death of Americans Elect, a shadowy group that had was out to sponsor a Presidential candidate. It’s hard to believe that Krugman does not know the orientation and aims of this failed effort.

Tom Ferguson, a political scientist who is widely considered the top expert on money in American politics, called out Americans Elect in March as a group out promote a right-wing, anti-entitlement message as “centrist” (for the record, polls regularly show majority votes in favor of preserving Social Security and Medicare). He also deemed their effort to be dead on arrival:

Last year a group, Americans Elect, surfaced with a plan that strikingly resembled one of the schemes of 2008. The idea was for an independent presidential campaign with some characteristically twenty-first century features, notably a primary to be conducted over the internet probably late in the spring, 2012…

Americans Elect’s very expensive efforts to get on the ballot in all 50 states, though, sported some very traditional features. Though it staked out a rhetorical claim to the political center, it declined to reveal who was financing it. The few moneybags it acknowledged were hardly from the political center. Peter Ackerman, for example, who acknowledges helping to finance the start up, was formerly Director of Capital Markets at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the firm Michael Milken made famous. Together with a long record of involvement in various Republican foreign policy ventures, he has championed Social Security “reform” with organizations such as the Cato Institute. Though Americans Elect has somewhat broadened its board, Ackerman’s son Elliot is the outfit’s Chief Operating Officer. And in public the organization has focused overwhelmingly on one issue: the deficit, and the need to cut government spending.

That Bloomberg would be by far the group’s strongest candidate is no secret…With Bloomberg continuing to discourage speculation about an independent bid, talk recently turned to other candidates who might mount a campaign championing deficit reduction. David Walker, the former U.S. Comptroller General and past CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the high aerie of deficit Superhawks, has been prominently mentioned. A recent press account had Walker holding a meeting to discuss Americans Elect with various tycoons and media moguls, including a News Corporation executive and Tina Brown.

A presidential campaign by Walker or anyone besides Bloomberg is basically a Mission Impossible.

Krugman instead, loudly, treats the centrist claims of the now-defunct Americans Elect as accurate:

And the center not only did not hold, it couldn’t seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded “centrist” group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture — all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn’t care less…

So why Americans Elect? Because there exists in America a small class of professional centrists, whose stock in trade is denouncing the extremists in both parties and calling for a middle ground….

Americans Elect was created to appeal to this class of professional centrists — which meant that it was doomed to go nowhere.

And why does Krugman want us to believe this “centrist” organization was doomed? Not because it was a vehicle for deficit hawkery that would get traction only if Bloomberg took up its mission, but because all sensible real centrists will of course vote for Obama:

What went wrong? Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. And there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.

There is another sneaky bit in this. Notice Krugman’s endorsement of deficit reduction (at least in part) by spending cuts, rather than via increasing growth? And also keep in mind that when the private sector delevers, unless the country runs a trade surplus, the government sector has to run a deficit to accommodate the desire of households and businesses to save. Krugman hopefully knows better than this. So why is he now starting to talk what sounds like austerity lite?

The Dems are tying to put together a Grand Bargain once again. There is apparently a push to get a deal done before the election but the folks I consider credible don’t see that happening. There is a possibility that we hit the deficit ceiling pre-election, which each party is likely to use to scapegoat the other, but odds favor the Administration coming out the loser. So in addition to the usual Obama hagiography, Krugman is also seeding the idea that a deficit cutting deal would be a good move. It will be interesting to see what contortions Krugman goes through to rationalize unwarranted cuts in Social Security and the beginning of the dismantling of Medicare. Remember, had Obamacare addressed our real Medicare problem, that of escalating health care costs, we would not need to be talking about “reforming” it.

Krugman has taken some brave stands in the past, but this sort of shameless distortion of facts to make a case for Obama diminishes him, and won’t resonate with anyone other than Democrat loyalists. The sooner Krugman recognizes this fact and starts taking up more worthy causes, the better.

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  1. Narg

    What’s going on here, the last three posts in a row I’ve read at NakedCapitalism were about Krugman bashing. At some stage you’ve got to realize it’s starting to look ridiculous!

    1. chris

      Well, apparently it’s ridiculous to you and I’d suggest you can simply stop reading here if you are so offended. The truth hurts, Narg… and I suspect the truth that’s hurting you most is that you just can’t stand to see Obama defenders taken down for their intellectual dishonesty.

      NC – 1
      Narg – 0

      1. Jonathan

        I’m with Narg on this. NC needs to do better than inflammatory, ad hominem, attacks. And this “stop reading if so offended” line, in my opinion, fails to give sufficient credit to the community that NC has become and the sponsorship that that community provides.

        Yves, my plea to you is for NC to stick to uncovering and highlighting facts of wrong-doing etc. in a calm manner. The vitriole doesn’t advance the greater cause.

        1. They didn't leave me a choice

          Ad hominem? Where? There was none in this post. I don’t think the term means what you think it means.

        2. Ned Ludd

          Here’s Krugman, avoiding vitriol and highlighting facts in a calm manner:

          [Romney] just oozes insincerity, that’s just so obvious. But all of the others are fools and clowns […] And Newt, although — somebody said, ‘He’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.’

          Have you ever criticized Krugman for his vitriol and inflammatory attacks? Or do you only feign concern when a Democrat is on the receiving end?

          1. Walter Wit Man


            Also compare Krugman’s tone here, when he discussed MMT, to Yves’ tone above.

            Krugman mocks the MMT people as being like Ayn Rand adherents (which is a big slur in progressive circles) who are incapable of understanding Krugman’s arguments because of their fervor, or something. He also notes he has read their “manifestos.”

            Imho Krugman uses more snotty language and uses underhanded ad hominem attacks more than Yves does above.

          2. F. Beard

            Thanks for the link Walter!

            “The second case poses no problem, say the MMTers, or at least no worse problem than the first: the US government can simply issue money, crediting it to banks, to pay its bills.

            But what happens next?

            We’re assuming that there are lending opportunities out there, so the banks won’t leave their newly acquired reserves sitting idle; they’ll convert them into currency, which they lend to individuals. So the government indeed ends up financing itself by printing money, getting the private sector to accept pieces of green paper in return for goods and services. And I think the MMTers agree that this would lead to inflation; I’m not clear on whether they realize that a deficit financed by money issue is more inflationary than a deficit financed by bond issue.” Paul Krugman from http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/mmt-again/ [emphasis added]

            Actually Paul, according to MMT, financing by bond issue is MORE inflationary than pure money printing since the debt of a monetary sovereign is ITSELF a form of money but one that pays interest too.

            “For it is. And in my hypothetical example, it would be quite likely that the money-financed deficit would lead to hyperinflation.” Paul Krugman

            No, not if simultaneous leverage restrictions were placed on the banks to compensate. Inflationary expectations are not sufficient to cause hyperinflation – one must also have money or credit to act on them.

            “The point is that there are limits to the amount of real resources that you can extract through seigniorage.” Paul Krugman

            The MMT folks have always acknowledged that price inflation could be a problem with excessive deficit spending.

            “When people expect inflation, they become reluctant to hold cash, which drive prices up and means that the government has to print more money to extract a given amount of real resources, which means higher inflation, etc.. Do the math, and it becomes clear that any attempt to extract too much from seigniorage — more than a few percent of GDP, probably — leads to an infinite upward spiral in inflation. In effect, the currency is destroyed. This would not happen, even with the same deficit, if the government can still sell bonds. Paul Krugman [emphasis added]

            A plausible (and very conventional) argument except it neglects the very big role credit creation would play in hyperinflation and that the debt of a monetary sovereign is ITSELF a form of money – worse a form of money that pays interest.

        3. Jessica

          I don’t see any ad hominem here. Yves criticizes Krugman for quite specific behavior and clearly explains why she rejects that behavior.
          I also don’t understand the label “inflammatory”. I saw a very carefully worded criticism with a specific and reasonable recommendation.
          Inflammatory ad hominem would be something like “No one should ever listen to a flunky like Krugman”. This would be inflammatory because it attempts to end discussion not further it and ad hominem because it attacks the person, not the behavior or argument of the person.
          Just to be clear, the above quote was a hypothetical that I would not agree with. I think Krugman is worth reading. Even when I disagree with him, which is often, he functions as a useful indicator because he somewhat stretches but sets the bounds of what is allowed to be discussed in some circles: one is allowed to go as far as Krugman, but no farther.

        4. Jimbo

          I’m also with Narg. This post is misleading at best, and could probably be more accurately be described as a blatant misrepresentation of what Krugman writes day in and day out.

          Note that in the excerpt, the word “centrist” is enclosed in quotation marks. I would think most readers would be capable of realizing the author is using the term with sarcasm.

          Krugman has been consistent in his call for more investment (stimulus) in the short run, while acknowledging that in the long run some cuts and considerably more in revenue increases will be necessary.

          Is there a reasonable mind anywhere that will argue against that?

          And no, Krugman is not on record in favor of cuts to the social safety net.

          Finally, Krugman describes Obama as “maybe too willing” to play the role of budget cutter. The problem I have with that statement is that the word “maybe” should be removed.

          I’ve been lurking on this site for more than a year, but this is my first post. I couldn’t let this one slide. I realized a long time ago that a large portion of the featured articles on this site are of little value. I visit the site now primarily for the daily “Links.” I made the mistake of getting suckered into reading this piece, but I won’t make that mistake again.

          I come here looking for information. This post fell woefully short.

          1. F. Beard

            Krugman has been consistent in his call for more investment (stimulus) in the short run, while acknowledging that in the long run some cuts and considerably more in revenue increases will be necessary.

            Is there a reasonable mind anywhere that will argue against that? Jimbo

            Yes. The call for short term “stimulus” and long term “deficit cutting” is a perennial Keynesian cry. It has become a laughing stock. It appears that deficits are, in fact, good as MMT predicts. But what is not good, as Bill Mitchell points out, is rentiers profiting off those deficits by lending government the money it has a perfect right to create itself.

          2. Harold

            Krugman argues that there is a long term debt problem that must be brought down by a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. He couldn’t be more wrong about that, Jimbo. He thoroughly deserves the criticism leveled at him by Yves, and more.

          3. Blue Meme

            In general I am a big fan of this blog, and of yours, Yves. But I think you are off-base here.

            I think this is the nub of your mis-interpretation of Krugman: you seem to attribute positive, laudatory adjectives with “centrism”, so when Krugman calls Obama a centrist, you see him as a partisan aligned with Obama.

            To me, the whole point of Krugman’s post is that “centrist” is neutral at best, and downright evil at worst. So calling Obama a centrist, when Krugman does it, is to criticize Obama, not to praise him.

            The piece isn’t really about Obama anyway. Krugman’s piece is intended to take Tom Friedman and David Brooks to the woodshed (well-deserved, IMO), NOT to laud Obama. I’m afraid you missed the point entirely.

            Krugman’s one of the few prominent good guys. By all means attack when he’s wrong, but errant pot-shots and circular firing squad activity aren’t helpful.

          4. Yves Smith Post author

            Blue Meme,

            Did you read the post, or the Krugman one that led to it?

            Krugman very clearly says that AE was centrist but no one paid attention (per him) but a very small number of “centrist” pundits . The reason per him that no one paid attention was that centrists were already well represented by Obama and the Democratic party. He then works in a defense of deficit cutting, AE’s ONLY mission.

            Any piece by a writer stands on its own (and I was well aware of the dig at Friedman, go read the Ferguson post I quoted). He could just have well put up a post saying, “ha ha, AE is dead” and given a completely different set of reasons as to why it died. How about the accurate one, that this was a right wing front with no hope of going anywhere ex Bloomberg? No, he uses this opportunity to create a pro Dem, Obama, and deficit cutting narrative (the last more subtly than the first two).

            This is ALL about laying the groundwork for Grand Bargain. And people like you who keep defending Krugman’s defense are going to be road kill if you don’t wake up.

            Obama, in his first two weeks in office, when he had solid majorities in the House and Senate, had dinner at George Will’s house and said his first priority once the economy was on a better footing was cutting Social Security and Medicare. The conservatives reported they were very pleased with the discussion.

          5. Blue Meme


            I completely agree with your uncharitable view of Obama and his Grand Bargaining. I have gone from believer to apostate over the last 4 years.

            I just don’t see the evidence for your characterization of Krugman as a co-conspirator. He has been roundly critical of Obama’s handling of the economy (though he is often forced to defend it from even worse ideas). I’m at work and can’t compile the data now, but I see him as trying to pull us in the right direction here.

          6. Yves Smith Post author

            Blue Meme,

            Krugman has a history of falling in with the party after taking “correct” positions. Look at TARP. He was an initial opponent, then fell in line after the initial defeat in Congress. He’s now trumpeting Obamacare. If Obamacare would fix what Krugman has LONG said is the problem with Medicare, health care costs, one of the big alarms the entitlement cutters keep raising would have been eliminated. Yet Krugman keeps trumpeting Obamacare’s few plusses (giving insurance to the non-insured is not a boon if the insurance is costly and covers little) and not similarly vocal about its shortcomings.

          7. Aquifer


            Seems to me the issue here is another of calling out the wolves in sheep’s clothing, one by one. Yves seems pretty good at doing that, and one of the few that does (though i disagreed with the use of Paul as a critic) By now most folks recognize that Move-On and Daily Kos, e.g. are just Dem flacks and don’t allow themselves to get suckered. But that was not always so and in the beginning i suspect those who called them out were treated with the same “you are being too hard on them” response. There are a lot more like them with various layers of wool – takes longer to strip those layers off, sometimes…

            But they all, IMO, have one thing in common – they critique the Dems, sometimes severely, but in various and sundry ways big and small all weave in what winds up as TINA. And they build “credibility” with skeptics for this “conclusion” precisely by rendering their “critiques”.

            The more “reasonable” they seem the more “credible” as they slowly lead you down the garden path. To me anyone who critiques a politician for a position without offering an alternative who has a better one, especially when one is available, is suspect. For Krugman, like so many others, TINA and bit by bit, he must bring his acolytes along with him to the same conclusion.

            I have been watching the political scene for a number of years – this pattern is sooooo obvious that my antenna are up and tuned to when it looks like the wool shearers need to come out …. Yves is shearing away – that’s the only way to tell if there’s a wolf under there …

            This thread seems to amount to a discussion of whether or not this post is an example of “the woman who cried wolf” – applying my criteria, methinks it is not – there really is one ….

          8. Clonal Antibody

            One of the most damning assessment of Krugman’s mind set comes from Bernard Litaer when he talks about chartalism.

            This is talked about by Peter Cooper in his article Economic Orthodoxy = Intellectual Dishonesty

            … Krugman asked [Lietaer], “Didn’t they warn you about not touching the monetary system? If you insist on talking about it, it will kill you academically. It takes a university economist completely out of the system of peer approvals that culminates for a few in the prize given by the central bank of Sweden in honor of Alfred Nobel.” …

          9. F. Beard

            @Clonal Antibody,

            Thanks for the link to Bernard Litaer.

            How pathetic! Krugman indirectly works for the banks. He is paid to NOT understand his bosses’ business.

          10. darms

            “The conservatives reported they were very pleased with the discussion.”

            Could have fooled me, the ‘conservatives’ have been at Obama’s throat since McCain’s concession speech…

          11. Yves Smith Post author


            Your remark isn’t a rebuttal. The fact that Obama is on the same page as the “conservatives” (which in the US means “serious right wingers” on entitlement reform does not mean they won’t bitch about him on other issues. They are the opposition. That’s their job.

            And the substance of the dinner at George Wills’ house has been written up, you could find it if you bothered.

        5. Connecticut Man1

          Krugman bashing? Vitriol? Ad hominem attacks? You two are a precious pair… I am guessing you have not thought through your own argument very much.


          Sounds more like Narg and Jonathan are making their case for this:

          “The Practice of Ritual Defamation

          How values, opinions and beliefs are
          controlled in democratic societies.”

          Some Obama supporters are no better than Bush supporters were.

    2. nonclassical

      Not at all-it is Krugman who contorts-colflates, all too often. “Centrist” political position: is today, far right of Richard M. Nixon..there is none, as a real “left” simply is disallowed, in media, or politics…

    3. PaulArt

      Nope, Yves is right on target. I am a Krugman fan – since 2000. Got out of the housing market in 2004 because I read him religiously twice every week as I do even now. I have always noticed Krugman’s shyness to take on Obama the way he did Bush-II. He has also used a long barge pole to deal with the Banking deregulation and also the complete lack of resolve of the Obamabots to rein in oil speculation on the CFTC. For a long time Krugman did the ‘Supply-Demand’ two step till he realized how idiotic he looked and then conceded that yes, oil prices are high due to speculation. While he conceded this he never did address the issue of why Obama reappointed two Bush era appointees to the CFTC and why Obama still refuses to do anything except demagogue oil companies about oil prices. I use a political filter when I read Krugman, I know while he may not love Obama he tries to stay within the paradigm of ‘TINA – there is no alternative’ to the Democrats. That’s where he comes from.

    4. Jill


      There is a real difference between “bashing” another person and pointing out what they are saying and analyzing it. If an analysis is accurate but unflattering I notice that the first comments are almost always accusations of “bashing”. There is a real intellectual dishonesty to that claim just as their is a real intellectual dishonesty in what Paul Krugman is saying.

      What Krugman is saying about Obama does not hold up to factual scrutiny. It does reveal him as a partisan who is not interested in laying out the situation we face in our nation. Rather, he is clearly stumping for his candidate of choice. He is allowed to do so. The rest of us are allowed and obligated to show the errors in what he is saying.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Exactly. Krugman is a party hack, not an intellectual.

        Just look at the way he treated MMT for another example of his dishonesty.

        He is not making a mis take nor is it based on a character flaw like hubris or pride. . . he’s simply following orders and serving an agenda.

        He is writing for the New York Times after all.

    5. Gil Gamesh

      The problem with Krugman is the problem with Obama. By appearing reasonable, moderate, conciliatory, even mildly progressive, each can advocate (and in Obama’s case, effect) regressive policies that only further enrich the rich at the expense of the rest of us. Very dangerous,treacherous even. And if you drop your guard, they will pull out your gold teeth.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        You nailed it, Gil. It’s been very shrewd framing, moving inexorably, relentlessly rightward for decades, until we frogs voluntarily boil to death. Yves is one of the few who see this clearly by dismantling the frame, and she has the courage to call out the framers and propagandists — without vitriol.

        Obama himself deconstructed much of this framing during his 2008 campaign, clarifying the obvious unfairness of rigged-market cannibalism (NAFTA, aggressive war, secrecy, surveillance, corporate welfare, etc.) which makes his treachery and betrayal all the more disgraceful and despicable.

        Calling Obama a centrist now can hardly be anything but conscious tribal propaganda — on budget and finance alone. But when you also factor in unconstitutional power grabs, amnesty for fraud and war crimes, agressive militarism, and fascist suppression of human rights, then such deliberately blind partisanship becomes downright offensive.

        There are many unwitting supporters of Obama operating on inertia alone, but above a certain level, public figures should be viewed as collaborators, co-conspirators, and accessories to crime. Yves is admirably restrained in her criticism.

    6. When Sockpuppets Attack!

      Second ditch defense: the sock puppets need to shore up Krugman’s credibility because the fake MLK has pissed his away. Because it’s no fun being a puppet ruler if people stop pretending this is a democracy!

    7. Ned Ludd

      Were there any factual errors in those posts? Also, if you had just read three posts “bashing” Romney, would you have made a similar comment – that Naked Capitalism was starting to look “ridiculous” because of all the Romney-bashing?

    8. Walter Wit Man

      You’ve got it exactly backasswards.

      It is critical to expose the scumbags like Krugman.

      They are stealing our Social Security and Medicare! What part of that don’t you understand?

      Obama and the Democrats have bailed out the bankers using trillions of dollars but they won’t even fulfill the basic promises to the American people. And Krugman is running interference for them and helping them steal Social Security and Medicare.

      It’s probably too late but if the American people care about saving these programs they need to put party loyalty aside and see Obama and most Democrats (including Pelosi) as the enemies they are. They are thieves for the elite. Scumbags. So is Krugman for sneakily supporting them.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        How is Yves’ post above more of an ad hominem attack than Krugman’s post on MMT?

        Don’t you agree that Krugman uses more underhanded ad hominem attacks than Yves does above? Does Yves call Krugman the equivalent of an Ayn Rand accolyte?

        What about the substance of the arguments? Don’t you think Yves has the better argument, that the solution and the people pushing the solution aren’t “centrist” but rather right of center?

        Your comment is ironic because you seem to be making an ad hominem attack (implicitly) without backing it up with any analysis.

      2. nowhereman

        mp. see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.
        I know, reality can be pretty scary somerimes. Take a pill, you’ll feel better in the morning.

    9. Matt

      What should be stressed is that there are any number of 1 percenter backers and their paid and volunteer minions who are psyche warfare-ing that the 99 percent should eat less and pay more.
      Krugman is part of the problem between his 1 percenter economic analysis and here reinforcing some 1 percenter media dust cloud spin.
      Once in a while Krugman gets it right as in, Greenspan has been on take from Rand to Lincoln Savings PR man to trying to minimize investigations of financial fraud.

    10. Iolaus

      Here is Krugman’s original text:

      And the center not only did not hold, it couldn’t seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded “centrist” group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture — all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn’t care less.

      What went wrong? Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. And there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.

      So why Americans Elect? Because there exists in America a small class of professional centrists, whose stock in trade is denouncing the extremists in both parties and calling for a middle ground. And this class cannot, as a professional matter, admit that there already is a centrist party in America, the Democrats — that the extremism they decry is all coming from one side of the political fence. Because if they admitted that, they’d just be moderate Democrats, with no holier-than-thou pedestal to stand on.

      Americans Elect was created to appeal to this class of professional centrists — which meant that it was doomed to go nowhere. Because outside that class, the large number of people who believe in all the good stuff the centrists claim to favor are, you know, going to vote for Obama. The large number of people who don’t believe in any of that are going to vote for Romney. All AE could ever have been was a distraction; and it turns out not to have managed even that.

      I think Yves has misinterpreted this. We may quarrel over whether or not Obama or his party are “centrist.” But it seems to me that Krugman’s point is that “professional centrists” (meaning those who present themselves as centrists) have no traction, because there already is a “centrist” party–occupied by “moderate Democrats,” no less.

      1. Adams

        On the one hand I agree Krugman is saying Obama is a centrist and Democrats are a centrist party. But I am disturbed by, “Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions…there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.

        The quoted statement is pretty close to a normative statement that the centrists (Democrats) are the responsible (i.e. good) party. This is close to Ornstein’s thesis in his new book. But those “responsible” positions include cutting SS/Medicare and other social programs. Explicitly in Ornstein’s case, less so for Krugman up to now. And we already know that Obama’s version of a reasonable, centrist, bi-partisan compromise is a ratio of maybe 10:1 between program cuts and tax increases.

        That’s not a compromise, it’s a forfeit.

        Krugman is too careful, bright and knowledgeable with respect to both his field and general politics to express an ambiguous position without intending to do so. I find Ornstein’s book release, Krugman’s ed, the Administration’s rhetoric about the Grand Bargain being “still in the table” and, e.g., Kent Conrad’s catfood commission machinations in Senate Budget all to be very disturbing tells.

        No question Yves is correct that groundwork is being laid for the resurrection of Bowles/Simpson in the lame duck session. My personal sense is that significant cuts to SS/Medicare are more likely to be successful if Obama wins.

        Either way it is very disturbing to see Krugman carrying water for another sell-out.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Please Google “Overton window”.

        Obama and the Dems are not centrist, at least on the national level. Look at what they did to Brad Miller, or the way the DCCC withheld any funding from Alan Grayson.

        The depiction of the Dems, Obama as centrist, and AE as some sort of variant (“professional centrists” meaning at least Tom Friedman) IS misleading and IS propaganda.

        Put this another way: how does putting the whole text prove any misrepresentation on my behalf? I don’t see any, and the little you say at the end (that Krugman claims that Dems are centrist) supports the argument in the post.

        1. Connecticut Man1

          One man’s neocon is another man’s neolib… The party they can be associated with is about the only difference in viewing Bush vs Obama, IMHO. Which pretty much makes Krugman’s tepid support for any part of this ongoing political whackjobbery pitiful.

    11. JamesW

      Americans Elect — hedge funds and private banksters, centrists? ? ?

      Oh, and I saw this someplace on the Web and you might it enjoy it, Narg?

      Conscience of a Schizoid: the Paul Krugman Farce

      Krugman draws parallels to the 1930s — while ignoring all the jobs offshoring — all the technology offshoring — all the investment offshoring!As long as Krugman chooses to ignore this — and what constitutes the economic engine of the USA — he makes no sense?

      (True, there was offshoring of investment back in the 1930s with the investment in German munitions by Brown Brothers Harriman and JP Morgan invested, or financed, Mussolini’s invasion into oil-rich Libya, but nothing on today’s order.)

      With the financial sector making up far too much of the GDP — when Krugman, or anyone else, suggests further stimulus (and I heartily agree more stimulus is required) — but then suggests ONLY putting it in the public sector (teachers, police, etc.) — how in creation is that not short-sighted?

      Again, Krugman ignores the dismantling of the economy with the offshoring of jobs, technology and investment and with the financialization of the economy — which essentially only profits the banksters.

      Krugman, of course, has long been a “free market” evangelist — which is his ultimate blind spot (or fraudulent behavior) of self-denial and why he chooses to ignore all the variables.With Krugman’s latest pronouncements (the crisis being more about household debt ? ? ?) he sounds like a member of the Sarah Palin School of Economics, and a close read of Krugman’s most important opinions indicates that he falls 93% of the time in the neocon camp but — and this is the clincher — 100% on the side of the banksters and Wall Street whenever massive financial speculation is involved.

    12. Chris

      Krugman is one of the most influential economists in mainstream journalism. He earns a lot of his money from what he says publicly and the potential for criticism comes with the turf.

      What most economists like me have against him is his refusal to support the notion that a sovereign nation with its own fiat currency can fund deficits more effectively using its own money creation abilities, money that is interest free, rather than paying interest on bonds.

      Everyone who is in a position to challenge Krugman on this most important issue, must do so. And if, along the way, he gets criticised for writing rubbish, so what? His credibility is already on the wane.

    13. mac

      Krugman is a writer who writes articles designed to stimulate fervent pro and con responses.
      His job is to generate interest in what he writes to promote readership.
      His economic ideas are designed to stir the pot little else.

  2. LTRO

    Eventually, someone will probably bump the slug-Krug off.

    It will be difficult to think other than that the world will be a better place to exist.

      1. Binky Bear

        More like Der Sturmer in the day, or Stormfront and VDARE today. Krugman is one of the jooooze, lizard people, illuminati, etc.

        I’m not sure when some people will realize that Krugman is just another college prof and not an elected official of anywhere. There are a lot of kranks on here in the comments and I don’t necessarily exclude myself from the ranks of the kranks; however, there is a lot of time and spittle and raging wasted on one guy, who has become the Immanuel Goldstein of the MMT cult.
        If you want to believe in the magic MMT fairy, beating Krugman around the head and shoulders with your magic book will change exactly nothing. Sell it to policy makers and elected office holders.
        If they won’t buy it, start your own political party and buck the system. The whining and harping and kvetching about how unfair the world is and how mean Krugman is simply adds to the general impression that MMT=annoying street lunatics with sandwich boards.

        Either make the sale in such a way that regular simple people can understand it or you have achieved nothing but economics discipline onanistic glory. Coffee is for closers.

        1. Chris

          Good point Binky, but MMT is unsaleable to politicians, they like the current way of doing things.

          MMT means an end to gravy train they are all riding on.

  3. Middle Seaman

    Krugman always had a soft spot for Obama. He saw the health care pretend reform as a big step forward. I don’t expect him to admit, even to himself, that Obama is a right winger.

    There is alway the possibility the Krugman didn’t know much about AE. Anyway, what is the big difference between centrists and rightwingers in today’s politics? they are almost one and the same. Is there any real difference between the Ds and the Rs? They both gang on SS and Medicare after collecting our contributions for decades.

    1. PaulArt

      This is the reason why as someone middle aged I support moving to individual accounts. Its harder to steal from millions of individual accounts and not face the outrage. America today is in the death grip of the Seniors, they are the only ones who vote and they seem to continually vote to keep taking Social Security and Medicare benefits from their children and grandchildren while consorting with the soulless GOP and talking drivel about deficit reduction in the name of helping the same children and grandchildren. Why would you leave anything named ‘Security’ in the hands of politicians? I used to get a printed statement from the SSA stating what my benefits would be when I become eligible for Social Security. Not anymore, they stopped sending out this statement. When I checked their website it asked me to call an automated number and punch in my Social Security number – I did that and it does not recognize my number anymore! One knows not what nefarious scheme has now been concocted to defraud people below the age of 55. I guess we will find out when we get to 65 or 75 as the case maybe – because by that time they would have increased the eligibility to 75 years.

      1. Benedict@Large

        It’s hard to steal from individual accounts? Have you checked your 201-K lately?

        1. ohmyheck

          Thanks, Benedict. Will some NC Smartypants please explain how individual accounts are easy pickings for the greedy bastards, and that is why George Bush was so keen to push that issue? Thanks in advance….

      2. psychohistorian

        Your ignorance of SS is showing. Seniors are not your enemy. The global inherited rich are your enemy.

        Please go to Angry Bear and read one or more of the frequent correcting postings they do of folks misrepresenting SS such as you.

    2. spencer

      Krugman always had a soft spot for Obama

      Well, except for during the 2008 primaries, where Krugman was hammering Obama for pretending a mandate wouldn’t be necessary to make his health care reform plan work.

      And except for those times in 2009 when he flat-out said – in advance – that the stimulus Obama was proposing was far too small to get the job done.

      And except for – oh, why bother.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Why bother? Because this is the sneaky device Krugman and his ilk use to hoodwink progressives into supporting right-wing policy.

        Just like Daily Kos or Digby or the plethora of other captured Democratic progressive sites. They all pretend to support policy to the left of Obama and are thus sort disagreeing with him.

        But at the last minute they switch sides and demand that you join the right-wingers or else all hell will break loose. In other words, people like Krugman are gatekeepers to sucker liberals into staying in the Democratic fold.

        But maybe I shouldn’t bother explaining this sneaky double-handed tactic to people that are employing this very tactic . . .

  4. Mike S.

    I don’t think Krugman is endorsing the cuts or means of balancing the budget which you attribute to him.
    Rather he states that, in his view, there is a sizable portion of the electorate which is succeptible to that rhetorical positioning.

    Krugman’s position on the overall governmental debt burden in this country has consistently been to point to the long term problems associated with expansion in health care costs and to a lesser extent military expenditures.
    Moreover, he’s in favor of reducing the cost of health care itself, and not of reducing the quality or access to health care.

    1. Tyler

      Just seconding this from Mike S. I can’t see how you get “endorsing” out of Krugman’s mention of spending cuts. Like Mike says, Krugman is describing what he thinks is a constituency that actually exists and saying Obama supports those policy preferences. If anything the parenthetical “maybe too willing” makes the passage negative, rather than positive, toward these policy preferences.

      It really is a pretty straightforward thing to say that self-proclaimed centrists actually support all of Obama’s substantive policies, despite trying to distance themselves from him. Whether Krugman agrees with those policies or not (though of course he is a consistent critic of such policies!) is a separate point.

      Really a very weird post, this is.

    2. Harold

      Then why does he calls those things ‘responsible positions’? Read it. It doesn’t read like sarcasm, it reads like he means it.

      In spite of what others have posted here, Krugman has always been against ‘long term’ federal debt, as opposed to short term, so he means it when he says Obama is advocating responsible positions. But Krugman is dead wrong in his understanding of federal debt.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      It’s weird that you don’t get it.

      Actually, not weird. Most people striking this pose are intentionally obtuse.

      Guess which position Krugman is going to ultimately support? Obama’s right-wing position cutting Social Security and Medicare. That’s what.

      Krugman is the leftmost criticism of Obama’s right wing policies that is allowed. Krugman’s criticism is allowed because it’s not sincere and is simply intended to sucker and trap liberals in right-wing policy. It’s the “make him do it” Daily Kos strategy for suckering people to stay in the Democrat party only to find out it was a trick to get them to go along with right-wing policy.

      Krugman’s trick (just like Daily Kos and Digby et al.) is getting old and obvious.

      After Obamacare there is no excuse for getting suckered into the Democratic party right wing trap. Krugman will end up supporting massive cuts to Medicare, just as he already has with his support of Obamacare, and he will also reverse course and support massive cuts to Social Security. I’m sure he’s going to have some bullshit explanation that Obama is better than the alternative and there is no quitting the Democrats and he’s reluctantly supporting cuts . . . but Yves is correctly analyzing Krugman’s duplicitous language and the cries to simply trust Krugman and the Democrats is incredibly naive or worse.

  5. Philip Pilkington

    Krugman has always had a blind spot on both his right and his left, not only in his politics but also in his economics. No, worries — eyes focused, look straight ahead… march, march, march…

    He engages in the same rhetorical ploy that he accuses his opponents of: that is, misrepresenting the ‘center’. What does it take, I wonder, to qualify for the status of ‘professional centrist’. Hmmm… I can think of one or two things, Paul…

    1. tom allen

      One would think that if Paul Krugman had the “Conscience of a Liberal” he might not be supporting a centrist candidate.

    2. Historicaecon

      While applaud Yves for taking on Krugman, I think this column is misplaced. The real problem with Krugman is he still seems to be running with his “the Republicans are really the problem meme.” The Republicans, of course (and I’d like to see this acknowledged slightly more often here) ARE the problem. Austerity light? They’d give us the full Grecian urn. But the Democrats aren’t much better. They feed the base scraps on the social side and load down the plate for the financial industry. Krugman’s ironic assault of misnamed “‘centrists'” is not the place to make this critique.

      1. Lambert Strether

        It’s like the Rs rip out your heart, and the Ds just one of your kidneys. (Accepting that is called “pragmatism.”)

        Except the next year the Ds come back for your other kidney.

  6. Vincent Vecchione

    I think that post was more about Krugman’s usual MO, which was to bash his “colleagues” David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. I can’t really blame him for that. If I were in his position, it’d be hard not to spend way too much time wondering how the fuck those two numbskulls still have their prestigious positions.



    Anyway, he’s not wrong in describing the Americans Elect position as basically identical to Obama’s. But you’re right that one can read his description of that position as a positive. His use of the word “responsible” is especially awful, especially considering that he’s said the opposite in the recent past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBPdyj4XcSI

    Honestly though, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was just a failure to put scare quotes around the word “responsible”. He does describe Obama as “maybe too willing” to enact the Americans Elect agenda. I interpreted that as meaning he disagreed with Obama doing so, and the “maybe” was about whether he thought Obama would or not. On the other hand, I’m completely convinced that Obama’s position is identical to the Americans Elect one, and I think that’s fucking infuriating.

    1. Otto J

      Exactly this. He is not endorsing “centrism”, but if you really want to, you can read that into it. He might be too timid and too trusting of Obama, but in this case, no. He is associating Obama’s policies with those of Friedman et al., whom he clearly despises.

  7. chris

    So, we can see now that “centrist” has become the magic word for the brain-dead Stepford Dems who’ll continue to support the loathsome, murderous Obama Administration no matter what. Yesterday on MSNBC, David Corn (editor of the now vapidly milquetoast Mother Jones) favorably described the Simpson-Bowles Catfood commission as “centrist.” Meanwhile “The Nation” has yet to comment on Pelosi’s now active support for the same, while decrying that “women’s issues are economic issues too” (Katha Pollitt).

    Die Zeit ist um.

    1. Benedict@Large

      It’s worth reminding everyone that the Simpson-Bowles commission never issued a report. Simpson and Bowles did, but that is not what they were charged to do. Any reference to Simpson-Bowles that omits this fact is a fraud.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Well, the Catfood Commission is centrist. But the game is to keep pulling the spectrum to the right, so the center moves right (that’s The Overton Window). Obama has, if anything, accelerated that process across the board.

      UPDATE Adding, this is meta. I’m using centrist meaning “centrist” as the conventional wisdom in DC would have it. Take HCR: In a sane world, a national health service like the UK would be the “left” position, single payer would be the “centrist” position, and the neo-liberal system we have now would be right “right” position. In reality, single payer was shoved off “the table” by the Democrats and career “progressives” at some point in 2008, and it’s ObamaCare — a neo-liberal, market-based solution that places the health insurance industry firmly at the center of the system for another generation — that’s the “left” solution. Single payer isn’t on the spectrum of permitted, official discourse: It is outside the Overton Window.

      If the political system were electorally responsive, it would take account of the known fact that Medicare for All is quite popular, and being a “centrist” would bear some relation to what the center public opinion actually is. It isn’t, so it doesn’t.

  8. DiSc

    Hm, yes, I was puzzled at Krugman’s post as well. Even from the other side of the Atlantic, it was clear to me that Americans Elect had nothing to do with centrism and everything to do with selling hard-core right-wing policies as centrist.

    It is not only a US thing, there seems to be an orchestrated effort to fill the void of the crumbling political center with faux “centrist” groups, who actually advocate wildly reactionary policies.

    In the Netherlands we have G500, a similar group trying to infiltrate the three traditional centrist parties (CDA, VVD, PvdA) with a mix of policies going from criminal to pointless.

    In Italy, where I am from, there is something similar, although with Italian characteristics (familism, crony “capitalism”, links to the Church, nepotism, usual mix): Italia Futura, a supposedly centrist grouping who tries to make oligarchs electable.

    I am sure these groups will start popping up everywhere as the traditional parties crumble under the effects of the crisis and the wealthy see a possibility to cut out the middle man and make their own rules.

  9. fiscalliberal

    I look to Krugman to provide analytical thoughts on Economics not his political prowess. I am finishing his new book “End this Depression Now” and I think it provides food for thought way beyond that what Obama and Romney are capable of. The fact of the matter is that the recovery is creeping along at 2% growth, comparable to Japan Lost Decade. The Banks and Corporations are stuffed with surplus cash and demostrate how the free market is not capable of self starting. Krugmans new book provides some discussion worth consideration in terms of not condinuing the current insanity.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Kurgman is one of the most ideological of economists, making many of his assertions in polarizing, partisan terms. I would call him a political economist whose ‘analysis’ consists mainly of rhetorical posturing.

      Too bad Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust is retiring. He actually did economic analysis with, you know, numbers and charts that he produced, keeping his political preferences out of it.

      Just before signing off, he was somewhat optimistic about the U.S. economy, on the grounds that bank credit had finally begun expanding. With a whiff of global recession in the air, we’ll see how that forecast plays out.

    2. Mole

      Free markets?

      Is this some sort of joke?

      Do you mean the market were a few central bankers decide what overnight interest rate banks should charge?

      Or is that the market were LTCM, the TBTF banks were bailed out?

      Or is it that were the fed creates credit out of thin air via QE programs.

      Or maybe it’s that market were special interests, banks, medicine, real estate, education, solindra, who decide were capital is invested.

      Or perhaps its that market that steals from responsible savers and from people on fixed income for the benefit of the banks doing God’s work.

      Or perhaps is that market that allows the government to mortgage our children’s future by deficit spending to death.

      Does this still sound like a free market to you?

    3. Woodrow Wilson

      “The fact of the matter is that the recovery is creeping along at 2% growth” –

      I guess when you can steal trillions (literally) from taxpayers and allow The Fed balance sheet to explode well over $2 Trillion, I guess one could look at that as “growth”.

    4. bulfinch

      “The fact of the matter is that the recovery is creeping along at 2% growth, comparable to Japan Lost Decade.”

      I think the word respite is more fitting than recovery.

    5. Benedict@Large

      Is it really “growth” when the “economy” is expanding at 2% while paychecks are falling? Or is it simply that rent extraction is back and healthy?

  10. W.C. Varones

    Just because it’s funded by billionaires doesn’t make it right-wing.

    Obamunist Warren Buffett is a billionaire, after all.

    Bloomberg is a big-government nanny-stater despised by the right.

    1. MontanaMaven

      That’s why the labels don’t mean anything anymore. Political language has been kidnapped and replaced with weasel words and management speak i.e. of what Orwell warned. The beauty of Occupy is a willingness to rediscover other social organizational systems and to open up discussions to alternatives because there are alternatives not TINA.

      So instead of the nabby pabby “No Labels” “Americans Elect” movement, we have declared that there is a vast inequality between the 99% and the 1% or really the .01%. The 1% should not be defined in terms of how much money or assets they have alone. But rather the 1% have their lackeys who work for them so as to stay in and around the swirl of the oligarchs. Whether you know you are trying to hitch a ride with a bunch of scoundrels or you still believe the system is fundamentally sound and you just have to win the argument and reform the scoundrels, you still are keeping yourself dry while others are drowning.

      Robert Reich is another establishment i.e capitalism spokesman who looks like a leftie and sometimes quacks like a leftie but then dismisses socialist ideas. This post “Against Robert Reich on ‘Socialism’ “is worth reading as is the one on the Greece left and its importance for our politics. http://www.pink-scare.blogspot.com


  11. Warren Celli

    Kissenger, Krugman and Obama,
    ‘Winners’ of the Nobel Prize,
    Kissenger, Krugman and Obama,
    All masters of Noble Lies…

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  12. Benedict@Large

    As we’ve seen during the now annual MMT-Krugman smackdowns, Paul can’t seem to get over the neoliberal Quantity Theory of Money. Inflation, he’s sure, is buried somewhere in the stack of paper used to print money. He just can’t figure out where in that stack, but he’s sure, I tell you; he’s sure. When hard-pressed on this, however, Krugman merely abandons the smackdown.

    Paul’s problem with Obama is simply that he, like so many other Obamabots, NEEDS Obama to be what so many thought he was when they voted for him. He DEPENDS on this, because if Obama isn’t that person, that crew is fresh out of ideas.

  13. Dan Kervick

    I don’t understand all the huffiness here.

    Krugman’s point is that Obama is already a centrist, not a left-winger, and that for professional “centrists” like Americans Elect – Krugman uses those scare quotes – even Obama is not centrist enough.

    Isn’t that true?

    1. Jill


      Obama is not a centrist. That is the propaganda Krugman is trying to sell you. He is a far right winger. Look at his policies. He is a neo-liberal and a neo-con.

      People like Krugman have a lot of prestige among one of Obama’s most important bases in the election; educated, often well-off “liberals”. Obama needs these people as donors, voters and donor/vote recruiters. Krugman and other “left” wing intelligentsia give comfort to people who might otherwise not vote for a man whose policies lie to the right of Dick Cheney and George Bush.

      1. Shingaling

        Centrist sounds about right. Neoconservatism/neoliberalism (no difference really) is best placed at the center-left.
        The far-right (paleocons & libertarians) are much further removed from neocons than the far-left. Just look at issues like welfare and “humanitarian” wars.

      2. Dan Kervick

        Look at his policies. He is a neo-liberal and a neo-con.

        That doesn’t make him a far right-winger, Jill. Sadly, that’s where a significant number of American’s fall on the spectrum. Obama is right about in the middle. These America Elects idiots think America needed a third party candidate because the other two parties and there candidates are extreme. Krugman is correctly pointing out, I believe, that the existing candidates already represent the center and the right, so it’s stupid to think we need some some new candidate of the center.

        I guess some of you think that by calling Obama a centrist, that’s a great and unwarranted compliment. It’s no compliment in my book – it’s depressing. But it seems roughly true.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          No. As pointed out in the post, MOST Americans of all political stripes want to keep Medicare and Social Security. Most Americans would also support single payer medicine if the Democrats, for instance, truly sought it.

          On two of the most important issues, retirement and health care, the public desires a liberal solution.

          Obama and the Dems (and Krugan) are working hard to convince you of the opposite—that right-wing policies are the only option.

        2. Jill


          Obama’s actions do make him a far right winger. He takes positions to the right of Dick and George. Krugman calls Obama a “centrist” not because Obama is a “centrist” but because he is trying to propagandize his readers.

          It remains important to use language honestly. Krugman is not honest with his readers about who Obama is and what Obama is doing. I’m very tired of this from lefty intelligentsia.

          I’m tired of all their lies, of their inability to name things accurately, the unwillingness to honestly confront and write about policies that are destructive of our social fabric. People are suffering not only from Obama’s right wing policies but from the deliberate obfuscation of those policies by people like Krugman. I would be ashamed to be an apologist for a person and policies that brought real harm to other people and my own society.

        3. darms

          Overton window, folks, it’s been pulled so far to the right that today’s ‘centerist’ is 1970’s ‘far right’. Richard Nixon signed more ‘left wing’ bills than Carter, Clinton or Obama combined. I know, I was there.

  14. duffolonious

    It is possible that Krugman is taking Obama as a Centrist for the sake of argument – because he has -in previous articles/blog posts- been annoyed with people like Thomas Friedman. Friedman will list some policies and then whine that no candidate wants to do these policies, when they are more-or-less what the Obama Admin. is trying to do for better or worse.

  15. Otto

    Krugman is absolutely not “fawning” over Obama. He simply states that the American centrist position (as supported by polling) is in agreement with Obama’s positions. Among the population “centrists” will vote for Obama. That is a pretty sound reading of the data, not “fawning.”

    Krugman was the first to warn about Obama and got a lot of grief from the left because of it. He then criticized Obama for the inadequate stimulus. He then criticized Obama for pivoting to the deficit.

    Just yesterday I read this really awesome post by Yves about how the education industry is becoming “extractive” and how we as a society have abandoned our foremost social obligation – to educate the young. It was poignant, it was brilliant. I wish we had more posts and discussions about this, because that post was a wonderful analysis and interpretation of data, and presented a new and deep understanding of what we face as a society.

    This Krugman post seems to be the opposite because the items that you disagree with become lies, conspiracies, deliberate distortions, tricks, and evil manipulations by men behind curtains. Tiresome.

    1. Mole

      I hope Yves analysis didn’t forget to mention how the fiat system promotes risk taking and punishes savers.

      I hope she also included details about how the fiat system constitutes to fraud as the fed prints supporting a few selected banks and irresponsible government “programs”.

      Perhaps she also mentioned how the newly created credit will flow into the areas chosen by the government and that it is no surprise that prices go higher to the point individuals can no longer afford. You have to love how “helping” people by creating affordable housing, medical, student grants and loans has done the exact opposite of it’s intended purpose. Are we so naive that we believe in supply and demand, yet expect the opposite to happen when more credit is created?

      Did she also mention that the most efficient laborers are those that can be hired and fired at will. That teacher union thugs are in for the money and not for the kids. That unions defend those useless incompetent union thugs.

      That we can fix all our troubles if we let the free markets be free?

      1. F. Beard

        Let me guess?

        A free market requires a government enforced gold standard? Freedom requires slavery to gold owners, gold miners, usurers and money hoarders? To a shiny metal? To a modern version of the Golden Calf?

          1. Mole

            Oh they wont have to deal with the euro soon enough. Let’s see which currency they prefer at that point.

  16. pjcamp

    So basically your argument is over who gets to define the word “centrist.” You want to define it yourself and loudly denounce anyone who chooses that label for themselves but doesn’t fit your definition. Krugman, on the other hand, accepts the self chosen label and then shows how it doesn’t fit.

    Other than that, I don’t see any difference between you thinking American’s Elect was stupid and Krugman thinking the exact same thing.

    I just started reading this and thought it would turn out to be an interesting blog but maybe not, if you’re willing to get bent out of shape over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What about “propaganda” don’t you understand?

      Presenting right wing views as mainstream and widely shared supports having the media give them more coverage than they warrant (and being treated as more moderate than they are). And it also serves to make those who oppose them incorrectly believe they are in a minority and might as well give up. And he does not say it does not fit. Shorter version of post: AE “centrist” is a subset of Dem centrist, and that’s why AE died.

      Calling a position to the right of where Americans are is NOT centrist and IS propagandizing, whether intended or not. Krugman for a self proclaimed liberal is passing on right wing framing uncritically.

      Polling data repeatedly shows that the majority of Americans support positions to the left of the ones AE and Obama take on deficit reduction. Ergo, my objection to his application of the label “centrist” is fact based, not an opinion.

      1. darms

        “Shorter version of post: AE “centrist” is a subset of Dem centrist, and that’s why AE died.”

        IMHO that should be “Shorter version of post: AE “centrist” is a rightwing subset of Dem centrist, and that’s why AE died.” Esp. given that today’s ‘Dem centrist’ is 1970’s right wing.

  17. ltr

    I was shocked at how shamelessly partisan the Krugman blog comment was. All Obama, all the time, now, and ruination to any person who criticizes Obama for any reason. Well, I criticize Obama and refuse to be intimidated by the likes of a Krugman.

  18. Gepap

    This post is a perfect example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. Wake up NC readers – your “perfect” candidate isn’t out there, nor electable at this time. The Overton window has been shifted so far to the right that most people would find what you folks here say “nuts” even if most of it is correct – and since we do live in a democracy (the oligarchy still needs the legitimacy of the vote to mask itself) having someone who can get elected nationally is crucial.

    Is Obama going to implement the policies you want? No. Will he implement policies that will be as bad for the common American as Mitt Romney? NO. And don’t kid yourselves about the notion that if only things get so miserable out there people will flock towards your position as the answer – you guys will not be the saviours. People are more likely to flock to extremism in the right, since it is so self-serving and self-affirming.

    So if you are going to disagree with Krugman, fine, but realize that Krugman gets made out as a Far Left Loony out there in the common dialogue, and in that spectrum, you guys might as well be Comrade Trotsky.

    1. Now you be the Democwat

      Having someone who can get elected nationally is crucial.

      Yippee! let’s play make-believe democwacy! Get the Playmobil voting booth and think real real hard about who’s better! Cuz it’s vewy cwucial.

      1. Gepap

        “Yippee! let’s play make-believe democwacy! Get the Playmobil voting booth and think real real hard about who’s better! Cuz it’s vewy cwucial.”

        Unless you are curently marshalling your forces and plotting an overthrow of the system, “playing make-believe democawacy” is your only option. And I will bet that you in fact are not currently doing anything to bring about the downfall of the current regime, which means that in fact you are doing NOTHING at all, except screwing up spelling to sound witty (newsflash, it doesn’t help).

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Most Americans, not just Democrats, want to keep Social Security and Medicare and don’t want it stolen. They would rather raise taxes on the rich or end our wars than cut Social Security, as both Obama and Romney want to do.

      So you are projecting when you claim most Americans will flock to the right-wing policy. That’s you. The “progressive” Democrat that is reflexively right-wing.

      Most Americans realize they are stuck between two criminal parties and have no real choice so don’t bother voting.

      You and your criminal pals in the Democrat party are much more of a threat than Romney. At least with Romney we know we are getting a right-wing warmonger. With Obama, the great deceiver, he hoodwinks naifs into supporting fascism using propaganda like “making the perfect the enemy of the good.”

      1. Gepap

        “Most Americans, not just Democrats, want to keep Social Security and Medicare and don’t want it stolen. They would rather raise taxes on the rich or end our wars than cut Social Security, as both Obama and Romney want to do.”

        Except that Obama does in fact propose raising taxes on the rich from the current levels while Romney would cut their taxes further. The two are in no rational universe equal when it comes to the their stated policy prescriptions for marginal tax rates on upper income individuals and to claim otherwise is disingeneous.

        “Most Americans realize they are stuck between two criminal parties and have no real choice so don’t bother voting.”

        If most Americans “realize that” while at the same time doing nothing else, then most Americans have already surrendered their claim on being the basis of legitimacy for the system. Given that turn-out for Presidential elections is over 60%, your claim is factually false – most voters (a majority) still do lend their vote to the system.

        “You and your criminal pals in the Democrat party are much more of a threat than Romney. At least with Romney we know we are getting a right-wing warmonger. With Obama, the great deceiver, he hoodwinks naifs into supporting fascism using propaganda like “making the perfect the enemy of the good.”

        Spare me the bullcrap. Are you proposing a violent revolution against the current regime? No. Are you proposing your own electoral platform? I don’t see it, and if you did, you would get roundly trounced by the right, because your messaging is moronic and you would rather insult people who agree with you on 80% of things than work wth them against those who disagree with you on 90% of things.

        You are about as useful as the “left opposition”, there to be liquidated as effectively as they were.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Oh, so Obama said he wants to tax the rich . . . hmmmm. … where have I heard that before.

          Seems like 4 years ago people like you were touting the huge differences between the parties because Obama promised to do away with the Bush tax cuts while those meany Republicans promised to extend those tax cuts.

          And then abracadabra, Obama does the opposite of this and comes up with a lame excuse as to why he has to enact the Republican agenda, and you expect me to fall for this trick a second tim? Please.

          You must have no respect for the diminishing number of marks you and your criminal Democrat pals are targeting if you are going to try to pull that one off again. But hey, there’s a new sucker born every minute eh?

          Vote Democrat. Obama will totally tax the rich this time. Trust him. Suckas.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Obama’s support for more taxes on the rich is as genuine as his desire to help struggling homeowners. Linda Beale (tax professor) has analyzed his proposals to increase taxes on the rich. There has repeatedly been sleight of hand so that the increases are trivial at best because the increases he trumpets are offset by tweaks elsewhere that result in pretty much nada in the way of a net increase.

          You have fallen for his PR and have not looked at his track record.

          1. Gepap

            Given that a President can’t raise taxes on his own, even if I accept your statement that he doesn’t really intend to raise taxes on the rich, Congress would in its current formation would never have passed such a raise, looking at Obama’s “track record” would be meaningless in this regard.

            The fact he states he is for raising taxes on the rich as opposed to his oponent who proclaims he wants to lower taxes on the rich is a substantive difference, certainly as far as the public debate is concerned.

    3. Now you be the Whigs!

      First we let you lose so you pretend you don’t like corruption and perpetual war anymore, like you did back when the GOP ran it instead of you. Then we keep lettin you lose till you’re a desperate rump on the brink of extinction. Then you’ll stop trying to shut us up and tell us what we want. But it will be too late, you will have been supplanted by a functioning civil society developed in a way that is beyond the feeble comprehension of party hacks. What happens when you can’t herd free associations down the party cattle chutes? You wither and die.

      Come back when the recession sets in next month and Europe blows and three four banks go up in shrapnel and the economy seizes up and you’re exactly where the GOP was in 08. We will stomp your fingers as you’re scratchin hangin onto the cliff. For your treacherous contempt for the few remaining trusting voters.

        1. JTFaraday

          Oh you do, do you. And what Whigs are you talking about?

          Because I don’t think they’re as easy to get rid of as you seem to think.

  19. Jack Straw

    Krugman’s strength lies in his ability to looks closely at particulars – and it got him a Nobel, because he actually discovered something that mattered. But like other pundits and an exceedingly high percentage of political journalists, he can’t avoid the temptation to think of himself as a big picture political strategist, whispering in the President’s ear and intelligently guiding the ship of state, free of the hassles of being on a ballot.

    Budget discussion makes my eyes glaze over, not because it is boring, but rather because it is so besides-the-point as long as it universally ignores the costs of financialism (and permanent war) and treats the paper-clip poseurs like Ryan and Romney seriously.

    The problem, as I see it, is that the Democrats/liberals/left really don’t have much of an alternative to an economy whose lifeblood is assumed to be the growth of consumer indebtedness.

  20. ltr

    Yves is completely right, and Krugman has become increasingly and even wildly unfair in attacking any other person who might criticize Obama even if Krugman now and then tepidly criticizes Obama.

    1. Up the Ante

      That Is It.

      Either everything he perceives Is control fraud, or for him it does not exist.

  21. Bruce Wilder

    I think the NC Krugman-bashing is less effective than it should be, because the tone — the “bashing” part — overwhelms the analytic point(s).

    Take away the partisan distortion field of having a Democratic President, who is to the right of Eisenhower, and Krugman, who served in the friggin’ Reagan Administration, would correctly be located somewhat right-of-center. Nothing inherently wrong with that, I presume — well within the sane range of human ambivalence. And, I do not think Krugman engages in deliberate deception to hide his political desiderata and prejudices. It isn’t Krugman, who is deceptive; it is the times we live in, the weird extremism of rising plutocracy.

    The “bashing” tone is misleading, because Krugman is not at fault here; he’s not a bad guy, just a more conservative guy than people presume, because of the plutocratic propaganda distortion effect. Yet, I agree, it is still important to get clear about where Krugman is coming from. More important, in fact, because he has become a lonely touchstone of integrity and good sense, amid a punditry of mindless and uncritical “centrist” pro-plutocratic conventional wisdom. Krugman is a reality check for a lot of folks, but Krugman has his own prejudices and blindspots. duh.

    I just think it might be helpful to refocus “the hate” on the propaganda, and be a bit more respectful of Krugman, the journalist and economist. People, who are using Krugman as a reality check and respect his integrity, are not wrong to do so. If there were a deeper bench of pundits of sense and integrity, the limitations of his idiosyncratic habits of mind, and personal perspectives, would be more apparent and less harmful.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      You are mistaking critical analysis for “bashing.”

      In fact, while Yves is drawing strong conclusions (that Krugman “misrepresents” certain things), she does not use the mocking tone that Krugman uses himself. Both Krugman and Yves reach strong conclusions (e.g. that Krugman misrepresents fact or that MMTers don’t understand inflation), but Krugman uses a much more mocking and dismissive tone.

      Simply coming to strong conclusions or challenging the assertions of someone else is not “bashing” them. Bashing them is calling them a slur, like Krugman does when he compares MMTers to Ayn Rand fans. Krugman is justified in strongly disagreeing with MMTers (e.g. they get inflation totally wrong), but he uses an underhanded argumentation style (he also pretends to not understand certain things or acts like he’s too good to respond).

      Yves sticks to the arguments . . . even if they are strong critical arguments. I would think Krugman would be comfortable with this type of back and forth being a supposed intellectual and all.

  22. Martin

    Krugman has been consistent in saying over the last several years that we need major action now (preferably larger stimulus spending from Congress) to bring down unemployment, which he has repeatedly said is a slow motion disaster, and that down the road, after growth resumes its pre-crash path, we need to reduce the deficit. I don’t think Krugman is being sneaky here, and I’m not sure Yves actually disagrees with what Krugman has been saying. So I am wondering why the recent anti-Krugman animus on this blog.

  23. Jessica

    The odd thing about Krugman and Obama is I remember Krugman being sceptical of Obama during the 2008 primary season. He seemed to trust Clinton more to do something at least a bit useful about the economy.
    Or is my memory playing tricks on me?

  24. F. Beard

    It will be interesting to see what contortions Krugman goes through to rationalize unwarranted cuts in Social Security and the beginning of the dismantling of Medicare. Yves Smith

    Yes, it will. I trust you’ll keep us informed. My bet would be that he’ll say it is necessary to keep that most unnecessary group of people, sovereign debt buyers, happy. After all, their welfare trumps welfare for the old and sick and indeed most everything else, doesn’t it?

    The sovereign debt scam is apparently the nexus of the financial parasitism that plagues the world. Let’s abolish it, eh? Tell the Republicans, “We agree. The National Debt is a disgrace. It is corporate welfare. That’s why all future US deficits should be funded with US Notes and why the National Debt should be paid off in the same way as it comes due.”

  25. Teejay

    Yves: Fawning over Obama, egregiously incorrect,
    shameless distortions of facts, sneaky endorsement of
    deficit reduction by spending cuts? I’m baffled
    at how spot on your “Great Deceiver” post was
    and how wildly off the mark this post is. Dan
    Kerick’s earlier comment(5/16@8:00)stated it well.
    Krugman’s point is Obama’s already a centrist not
    a lefty and not centrist enough for American Elect.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. I parsed his language. Go read the actual post. There is more unwarranted praise of Obama in it.

      2. Krugman asserts that all good centrists will vote for Obama. That’s patently untrue. I personally know quite a few centrists who absolutely will not vote for Obama. They either won’t vote or will (gasp) vote for Romney.

      3. The onus is on you to provide specific rebuttals to what I wrote, not (in effect) say you don’t like it.

      1. Mark Gardiner

        Yves – sorry, but I think you just flat misread Krugman’s point on this one. He’s damning Obama with faint praise, not fawning positively – e.g. “…maybe too willing…”. He’s repeatedly criticized Obama since 2008, and was an outright Clinton supporter in the primaries. I don’t understand – other than an ego match – why you insist on devoting NC to so much criticism (not bashing) of Krugman. he’s one of the most effective ANTI-corrupt Wall Street voice in the corporate media. He, you and I should be on the same side. As for people like Digby being slavish DNC/Obama partisans – you’re not reading them as carefully as I am. The respected lefty blogs have been very critical of Obama – particularly on Wall Street related issues. I have been reading NC for factual reporting on financial issues and – when I have time – to follow the various economic theory debates. I know I can skip the Krugman-related posts, but I still don’t understand why you waste your time on it. And, to get back to the point, I think if you took a dispassionate look back at the AE post, you might want to admit you just misread it and move on. BTW – I’m by no means an Obama apologist. I’m a far-left business (not corporate) person who wrote Obama off as soon as he picked his economic team late ’08 / early ’09. He’s so wrong on Wall Street, the surveillance state, etc. that I can’t even listen to him speak anymore.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Contrast what he says in this post with the way he goes into flamethrowing mode on Romney and the Republicans. By contrast, he DOES express approval for the Democrats. As Andrew pointed out:

          But I am disturbed by, “Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions…there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.

          The quoted statement is pretty close to a normative statement that the centrists (Democrats) are the responsible (i.e. good) party. This is close to Ornstein’s thesis in his new book. But those “responsible” positions include cutting SS/Medicare and other social programs. Explicitly in Ornstein’s case, less so for Krugman up to now. And we already know that Obama’s version of a reasonable, centrist, bi-partisan compromise is a ratio of maybe 10:1 between program cuts and tax increases.


          I don’t see why people on this thread are reluctant to parse what Krugman said. It’s very clear.

        2. proximity1


          Thank you.


          and, aside, to “YS”, proprietor here,

          here’s well wishes for what I hope is your vacation–i.e. relaxation–time. I hope you can and shall dump the cell phone, the iPad, or whatever connects to the internet, and relax, read, think and reflect–all the things for which your usual busy schedule doesn’t allow you time.

          Thus, you won’t, if you’re doing it right, see this, if at all, until your return.

          1. proximity1

            my above was a reply to “Mark Gardiner says:
            May 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

            Yves – sorry, but I think you just flat misread Krugman’s point on this one.” …etc.

            who wrote my sentiments exactly.

            Thanks, Mark. Your comment was a “Bull’s eye” !

  26. Schofield

    Look Krugman has made it very obvious in his spate with Steve Keen that despite his Nobel prize he actually doesn’t understand how money works and its effects on economies. This understanding is central to achieving a way out of this Great Recession that does exactly what it says on the can.

  27. Jesse

    Perhaps someone is vying for a spot in the Administration should the election go well.

    I have seen and heard progressive economists say and do some very silly things to curry favor.

    1. proximity1

      “Perhaps someone is vying for a spot in the Administration should the election go well.”

      Weird. Do you even read Krugman? He’s stated in print pretty plainly that he views working within a presidential administration as being far too confining for his kind of free-ranging mind.

      Here–I’ll bet ya a dollar and fifty cents you’re completely off-base in the wild speculation that Krugman’s comments are part of some angling for a job in the (supposed) next Obama administration.

      With such flights of fancy, no wonder! the “movers-and-shakers” are simply beating the shit out of us without so much as mussing their perfect hair. They don’t even need two free hands.

      And, also weird, how people continue to try and make something of the fact that many years ago Krugman worked under Martin Feldstein when that latter was on one of Reagan’s administration’s Council of Economic Advisors.

      Puhleese, people. That’s a little like saying that a top restraurant chef of today “once worked in the Reagan Administration” because, in his younger days, he was a rising member of the White House kitchen, hired by the then-White House-chef. For crying out loud! As another disgraceful pseudo-liberal, Bill Clinton, used to say, “That dog won’t hunt.”

      1. JTFaraday

        “He’s stated in print pretty plainly that he views working within a presidential administration as being far too confining for his kind of free-ranging mind.”

        Oh please, you’ve got to be kidding me. Krugman is one note elevator music.

        1. JTFaraday

          No wait, scratch that. Krugman is that little *ding* that tells you your descent is complete and now it’s time to get off.

  28. proximity1

    As I interpret it, Yves’ plaint is based on her view of Krugman’s importance–which briefly goes, Krugman, important to us (true, or it ought to be), has gone, is going, so to speak, ‘going off the rails’; that’s a worrisome thing. Personally, I find this a rather pitiful example of such a concern. For me, if we neeed to criticize Krugman for faults, we’d do better to focus on, for example, his tendency to seem not to understand that so much of what the people in charge are doing is willful, deliberate maliciousness, not simple mistake or misunderstanding.

    So, getting back to an interpretation of Yves’ viewpoint, there’s a “compliment” of sorts in it: it’s that she takes Krugman’s value and importance as a given and is upset at what she sees as further “sippage,”–but which she also regards as, clearly, not irredeemable, as where she writes, “Krugman has taken some brave stands in the past, but this sort of shameless distortion of facts to make a case for Obama diminishes him, and won’t resonate with anyone other than Democrat loyalists. The sooner Krugman recognizes this fact and starts taking up more worthy causes, the better.

    So, this is her effort to “call back to order” a prominent opinion-leader, Krugman. For me, it’s misfiring, a waste of time and effort on small-bore stuff.

    We can debate –and clearly we are “debating”, (as that understood to be done in this medium)– how accurate her presentation of Krugman’s alleged failings are in the piece under discussion. I think the allegations of Krugman’s faults in this instance are quite exaggerated.

    This is very much a dispute about what “centrist” means in the U.S. That’s a rather fact pathetic all by itself. It may be (and in my view is definitely is) deplorable that a group such as Americans Elect 2012 (have the critics examined its staff and executives? I have; see: http://www.americanselect.org/who-we-are ) is considered “centrist” but, dear friends, that is a view which in these pathetic times is entirely plausible from the view of where, today, the supposed limits of “Left” and “Right” are.

    The sad thing to me is how terribly typical and ordinary Americans Elect is a sa group. This is the epitome of self-promoting insider-style political operatives making a place and a role for themselves. Read the names of the personnel and read their profiles. These are people who have long been playing the most common parts in our poltical system’s “game made of, by and for skilled game-ers” doing what is now and long has been the most common standard operating careerist stuff.

    Some call them “centrist”, others “right-wingers” or right-wing extremists. For me, a “reasoned” (even if not “reasonable”) case can be made for every one of those lables and the labels tell us more about those applying them than they do about those to whom they’re applied.

    I think Americans Elect (2012)‘s characterization as a “centrist” lobbyist/AC, is aabsurd –mainly because it’s so heavily weighted with investment firm executives, with lawyers and with academic big-shots; but I can easily see how in the eyes of some people, it qualifies as “centist”—and, notice that Krigman himself puts scare-quotes around “centrist” to suggest that, as he sees it, the centrism of Americans Elect 2012 isn’t completly beyond questionj. Among the group’s personnel, however, is one Sarah Malm, for example–who once worked on the staff of Illinois U.S. Senator Paul Simon (D). Ansd Senator Simon, while he was many things and some of them very open to criticism, was not particularly known (certainly not in his own time) as a raving right-wing extremist.

    Some people here are going rather far out on the limb to find something for which to criticize Paul Krugman.

    As not-very-important-but-very-useful-to-TPTB-distractions go, this one is lots of sound and fury for very little (or practically nothing) in return.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are missing a key point. Americans Elect sought to represent right wing views as centrist. This was all about making deficit cutting a huge issue in the presidential debates. This is really key. Krugman, by repeating the Americans Elect inaccurate self branding, is endorsing the Americans Elect claim that deficit reduction is centrist.

      This is all part of the effort to drag America further to the right. Krugman is supporting that effort by repeating that Americans Elect is “centrist” and saying Obama is the true centrist. This sort of propagandizing is PRECISELY how ordinary Americans have been screwed over time, via clever packaging of ideology. Yet you dismiss this as small beer. You are working against your own interests in taking that view.

      1. Gepap

        Krugman used quotes around the word centrist in his post, which last time I checked means you are using the words of the person being attributed – and one reason to do that is to show that you may or may not agree with the way a word was used. In the rest of the post he calls the group as being professional centirts, to highlight that the “centrism” is in relation to their self-styled position between the two parties.

        I fail to see why this should be seen as some grave sin. Why should Krugman have to add to his attack on the group the denouncitation of them as being hard-right? The Overton window has been shifted enough to the right to in fact place Obama at the “center” of what is supposedly the allowed debate. Shifting the window leftward takes time (just as it took a couple of decades to shift it right). Attacking Krugman as not being sufficiently leftist does nothing to help shift the window effectively. Its hard enough to get most people to a Krugmaniate position, which for you is still center-right. would you rather they stick with the John Cochrane, Mankiw position?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No you are wrong here. The public polls consistently as being in favor of preserving Social Security and Medicare, and puts deficit cutting VERY low on a list of priorities. You, following Krugman, are misrepresenting where American opinion lies.

          The public polls well to the left of positions the punditocracy depicts as middle of the road. Krugman is part of the propagandizing to move the Overton window to the right by depicting the Dem, Obama, and AE as “centrist”. His quotes seemed to be that AEs’ centrism was taken up only by certain pundits (not wishing to name names at the NYT) and THAT was because it was made irrelevant by the Dems “centrism.”

          Krugman does not get an out with his use of quotes. By saying that AE was made irrelevant by the “true” centrist Dem party, he made clear he was branding AE as centrist. The use of quotes seemed to be a device for him not to unpack his fight with particular individuals.

          1. F. Beard

            and puts deficit cutting VERY low on a list of priorities. Yves Smith

            If sovereign debt issuance is (according to MMT) itself inflationary then the current bond holders have a big incentive to oppose further bond issuance to avoid real losses unless those bonds are inflation adjusted.

            So are the biggest opponents of deficit spending hypocritical sovereign debt owners?

          2. Gepap

            Polls also show most Americans don’t support taxing the rich above 30% of income even as they do want to tax the rich more, and that more of them think that their taxes went up under Obama than understand that they went down.

            In short, the public has broad ideas of what they want, but is hopeless in understanding policy. When Obama is constantly labelled as “far-left”, “socialist”, and “communist” out there in the public debate do you really honestly think that that same public that supports Medicare and Social Security actually thinks Obama is some secret right-winger? Public support of those safety net programs is not based on an ideological basis but because the majority of the public sees how the programs help people they know (or themselves) and want to support them. This is why even most Tea Party folks support Medicare and Social Security, and why the right has the chutzpah to claim their attempts to gut those programs actually constitute “saving” them.

            Sorry to break it to you, but in the overall publuc debate that exists Obama is NOT seen as being right-wing by anyone not on the left (which is most people). Until this site understands that you will continue to do some good work on exposing the banks but otherwise merely preach to a small choir.

  29. Hugh

    Krugman is a Democratic tribalist. Always has been. Krugman is also a member of the Establishment, and he has always been that as well. In the traditional Establishment view, a Presidential candidate must command the center to win election because, again according to this view, that’s where all the voters are. Americans hate the extremes, etc. So when Krugman positions Obama as the centrist candidate, he’s saying he is the best candidate, the candidate that responds to what “America” wants. This is not hard political analysis, and frankly I am surprised that so many here find it so.

    What I found interesting was the wording in his description of the centrist candidate/Obama:

    “Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.”

    One would exspect that Krugman would not, due to space considerations, lay out the whole centrist/Obama agenda but that he would state its principal tenets. And what are these?

    A) Investment in education and infrastructure
    B) Long term deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases

    But note the actual wording: “call for”, “take responsible positions”, and “propose”, not fight for or enact. It would seem that Krugman has internalized the view that Obama can speechify the country’s problems out of existence, not by doing anything, just by throwing words at them.

    Note too what Krugman does not mention: creating jobs, defending homeowners, going after Wall Street, keeping Social Security to Medicare as they are, ending the wars. As I said, Krugman does not have to lay out his whole conception of the centrist/Obama platform but seriously he couldn’t afford another line or two of pixels?

    Finally, consider what Krugman does mention. Education? Arne Duncan has been pushing for more testing and more corporatization/privatization. The failures of No Child Left Behind exposed the fatal flaws in both these. Or is Krugman talking about higher education? Because if he is, I for one would like to know what Obama has “proposed” that would actually keep large numbers of graduates out of student debt.

    As for infrastructure, this is standard election year boilerplate. It is so vague and generic it could mean anything.

    Note also how Krugman can’t even bring himself to say spend money on these things. It’s invest. The problem is that increasingly taxpayers pay for part of these “investments” up front but then also get hit with tolls and fees for their use. These tolls and fees not only recede out to infinity but are often sold off to private corporations increasing further the financial hit to ordinary Americans.

    Then there is all the deficit reduction malarkey. Obama not only created and stacked the Bowles-Simpson aka Cat Food Commission but when the recommendation of its chairs went down in flames, he tried to resurrect them in the Kerry led grand bargain deficit reduction talks late last year. And let’s remember that not just Obama but other Democratic leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, have signalled their willingness to cut, or as they say, “reform” Social Security and Medicare.

    We have to remember that this is all kabuki. We live in a kleptocracy run by the elites for the benefit of the rich, which is often themselves. Krugman is a member in good standing of those elites, and the horse hockey he is selling us here is just stuff to confuse the rubes, i.e. us, and convince us not to believe our lying eyes, that Obama, and Krugman, are really on our side, and pay no attention to all the elites, like them, robbing us blind.

    1. proximity1

      RE: “Krugman is a member in good standing of those elites, and the horse hockey he is selling us here is just stuff to confuse the rubes, i.e. us, and convince us not to believe our lying eyes, that Obama, and Krugman, are really on our side, and pay no attention to all the elites, like them, robbing us blind.”

      Really! I’m taken aback at this–from you, in particular.

      To assert, as you do, either implicitly or explicitly, that Obama and Krugman are hardly distinguishable in their sincerity is, in my view, a very serious misreading of them.

      I don’t believe that Krugman is deliberately out to “dupe” his readers–or anyone else, for that matter.

      Obama, on the other hand, is a complete two-faced flim-flammer. Putting both of these men on the same level for honesty, for sincerity!— again, we’re doing the Right Wing’s work for it when we can’t distinguish fact from fiction better than this.

      1. Hugh

        Not sure why you should be surprised because this is a view that I have expressed many times before. As President, Obama is the prime executor of kleptocracy. He facilitates and expands opportunities for looting and makes sure the looters are not prosecuted. As a Nobel prize-winning academic, Krugman’s role is to distract from the looting by calling it something else and/or justify and defend it.

        There are only so many possibilities. If Krugman is stupid, then we shouldn’t listen to him. If he is smart, and I grant him that, then how can he, in good faith, be advocating for Obama 3 1/2 years into Obama’s Presidency? Krugman is supposed to be an expert, an opinion leader, how then can he be not only so far behind the curve and so critically, but for so long?

        I think that what is so difficult to deal with is that seemingly nice people can be involved in something so heinous as kleptocracy. It’s not so simple as villains sneering and twirling their moustaches. Rather our elites define what is good for them as THE good, that their good is our good. Their system of wealth and privilege must come first because without them there can be no good for the rest of us. They maintain this in the face of 35 years of flat wages, growing wealth inequality, high unemployment, millions losing their homes, crumbling infrastructure, deteriorating education, stratospheric personal debt, never-ending wars of choice, a two-tiered justice system, and the 2008 meltdown where they drove the economy over a cliff. To me, it no longer matters whether it is stupidity or complicity. It is bad faith no matter how you cut it and it is destroying us and the country. In light of that, do I care if Krugman’s feelings are hurt by our criticisms? No.

        1. proximity1

          “There are only so many possibilities. If Krugman is stupid, then we shouldn’t listen to him. If he is smart, and I grant him that, then how can he, in good faith, be advocating for Obama 3 1/2 years into Obama’s Presidency? Krugman is supposed to be an expert, an opinion leader, how then can he be not only so far behind the curve and so critically, but for so long?

          “I think that what is so difficult to deal with is that seemingly nice people can be involved in something so heinous as kleptocracy. It’s not so simple as villains sneering and twirling their moustaches.”

          Well it could be that Krugman comes up with a different assessment of the facts on the ground and reasons from that assessment accordingly. Instead of your imagining the possibility that Krugman might have a good-faith difference of opinion over the “choice” between Obama and Romney–not a meaningful “choice” in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean I write off all who disagree as crypto-neocons who I cleverly uncover by this ‘failing’ of theirs—you simply assume as true your version of the ‘facts’–those very things over which you and Krugman in this instance obviously have a divergent view.

          A person of your intelligence should not fall afoul of petitio princippi –nor need to look it up. But, it seems that, again, people can demonstrate lacunae that surprise us. But you don’t extend that much in imagination to Krugman. He’s very smart, you assure us, but not so clever that you haven’t “seen through” his evil machinations.

          Thank you, Hugh. But in reappraisals, readjustments of esteem and good-opinion, I’m debiting your account in my ledger and leaving Krugman–still imperfect, because we are all that–unamended.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        I can’t believe people can’t see that Krugman is out to dupe liberals. This is his raison d’etre.

        He is one of the few Democrats that is allowed to wish for liberal policies, but he carefully limits the expectations, as Hugh notes, but simply demanding that Obama throw some empty promises and words at the subject.

        This is the trick that Krugman engages in. He has no intention of actually getting these policies elected. No one that truly cared about these policies would depend upon Democrats to enact them, so his role is simply to sucker progressives into the Democrat party and give them false hope.

        Krugman helps Obama spread false hope and to trap liberals into right-wing policy.

  30. Crazy Horse

    When Geither leaves, having outlived his usefulness as Obama’s Minder on things economic, the post at Treasury will be vacant. Krugman is simply campaigning hard for the job. Would you rather have a slavish boot-licker like Krugman or another representative from Goldman?

    1. proximity1

      “three-polar” –? Do you actually visualize these things before writing about them? Perhaps you or Sterling can explain what a “one-demensional” picture looks like, I can’t parse that—

      “By Stirling Newberry on Fri, 07/10/2009 – 9:58am

      RE “Is Paul then a Progressive?”

      It was intentional to make this a 2 dimensional, rather than 1 dimensional picture.

      I credit you, though, for injecting sole needed reality in your comment by actually taking time to consider real people being attached to this otherwise other-wordly theorizing about three-pole politics.

      I had to search for any reference to actual people, but I found some where Sterling writes,

      …”But 60 stretches it, because the Confederates can usually pry loose a few of the most confederate Moderates: Baucus, Tester, Bayh, Nelson, Specter, and McGaskill are all good examples. Another example is the conduct of the Iraq war, including the use of torture. …

      And then we have, further along, this

      … “This is, perhaps, not what people wanted. But it is not 1930, with a new economy ready to rule the world, but closer to 1900, with a new economy beginning to assert greater and greater dominance, and an old order that is hobbling towards its final crisis. As with the first generation of liberals, this generation of Progressives must lay the foundations for later days, when the handwriting truly is on the wall, and the last SUV has been driven to the last development, with the last barrel of cheap oil.” …

      This is all much of a muchness. Do these people fit into the scheme of “moderate” in your spectrum? And, why or why not? Such is the kind of practical questions we should ask more. On what are these assumptions and scalings based? It would help a lot to know that.

      Who, today, constitute the “progressives”? Names, please. What, and where is the “progressive movement”? What’s it done, what’s it doing? lately, that is, in the past ten to thrity years? I’d be interested to know.

      Why ought we, as Sterling does, make much distinction between the political and economic distribution of forces between, on one hand, 1900 and, on the other, the circumstances prevailing in 1930? That’s an actual question and your views as to its answer interest me. Other than technologically, and particular individual personalities, (that is, as opposed to general “types” which run over and over through history as “great” men and women) how specifically and importantly was the world of 1900 fundamentally distinctive, different, from the world of 1930– that is, why, unless you disagree, should we accept such an assumption?

    2. Aquifer

      Great piece by Stirling – but i would suggest that describing the Dems as a coalition of mods and progs no longer is really true – the progs have been purged.

      I would also suggest that the effort to fit these 3 poles into 2 parties by various means is misplaced. Let each pole have a party – seems to me that is the only way the progs can fully develop their vision. At this point the prog vision, if told it must develop within the womb of the corp parties winds up stillborn or horribly misshapen … a political GMO.

      Progs need to come out of the closet of the Dem party and make their own way – 20% sounds pretty good to me, for starters …

  31. chitown2020

    Bloomberg News reporting AIG increases holdings in MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES. Why would AIG, want to hold more of these… ? Why would AIG the company who heavily insures this garbage be allowed to hold this crap…? More suspiscious is ….Why are they being allowed to BUY, SELL and TRADE these weapons of financial mass destruction….? Esp. After JP. MORGAN just blew some more of these up.

    1. chitown2020

      They are obviously spreading these ticking debt bombs around. This has to stop. They are unsustainable debts and can never be repaid. What they are doing with these mbs’s is very disturbing. What they are planning to do with these is alarming.

  32. F. Beard

    Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Paul Krugman [emphasis added]

    Yep, Krugman is pushing “austerity” but just now – the patient/host must recover first before it is bled even more.

    And there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama. Paul Krugman

    So what is Obama too willing to do? Spend now? Or cut later? Hasn’t Obama in fact reversed the order by cutting now so as to be able (he thinks) to spend later? Isn’t Obama then just another believer in the “confidence fairy” that Krugman derides?

  33. Trong Jun Min

    I don’t typically comment here because im not economics-literate, but i am politics-literate, and the implication of this supposedly offensive Krugman column seems to be that Amer. Elect is only the center between “moderate” (read: center/right) Dems and the Far Right – by implication making the same point NC is slacking Krug for avoiding. Yes, Yves makes the same point more directly here, noting that AE is an abandoned bit of Bloomberg2012 astroturf in the process of grinding under the bus wheels, but this Krug hitpiece honestly seems like a willful refusal to read between the lines in favor of cultivating some minor anti-Krug talking point – driven no doubt by what I gather is a theoretical MMT-vs-NewKeynesian blood feud.

    But the theoretical differences no doubt gather less attention than the more visceral approach of painting Krug as a Dem Party toady.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please. Did you read the Krugman post? He defined Americans Elect as centrist and also clearly attributed its failure to the fact to his claim that Obama is centrist. He is the source of the misleading definitions.

      Deficit hawkery is right wing. It is a way to put a “responsible” face on cutting social safety nets. This is what Americans Elect was all about (did you somehow miss who David Walker is???). If you ask ordinary Americans about cutting deficits, to the extent they think it’s a problem, they want defense cut and taxes on the wealthy increased. The Americans Elect position is in no way, shape, or form “centrist”. Krugman says in the post that the reason AE failed was the Dems already occupy the position that AE represented. And he also contends that Obama WILL reduce deficits. So he effectively concedes that Obama is right wing while he is advocating his positions.

      If you can’t read what Krugman wrote objectively, I can’t help you. Seriously. And I did not use the sort of language you attribute to me. His words speak for themselves.

      1. Trong Jun Min

        I understand Yves has better things to do than respond to the peanut gallery, but come on – was that a boiler-plate “reject criticism” copypasted response? I’m fairly sure Yves meant to reply to a different post, due to the non-sequiters etc.
        In the off chance its directed at me, no I didn’t “miss” that AE/Bloomberg/”fiscal responsibility” talking points are right-of-center, in fact that’s explicitly stated in my post – and implicitly in Krug’s column as well.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, I did read your post, and this was the essence of your objection and the only issue I deemed worth addressing, which I did:

          offensive Krugman column seems to be that Amer. Elect is only the center between “moderate” (read: center/right) Dems and the Far Right – by implication making the same point NC is slacking Krug for avoiding

          That was NOT the point Krugman was making. I rebutted your interpretation. Any labeling of Dems as centrist is propagandizing, period. And the bit about AE being right wing is NOT implicit in the Krugman post. The logic of his post is clear: AE failed because there is a home for centrists already, and that is the Democratic party. That means he says AE positions (Peterson funded entitlement cutting) fit within the Democratic party well. That’s actually happens to be true, and should be alarming rather than a cause for talking up Obama and the Dems.

          Labeling right of center as center is propaganda. I don’t know why that seems so hard for you to understand.

          My jibe about “reading” was that you took the liberty of imposing your own meaning. And you did it again in your latest post, with your bit on “implicit”.

          And although I have been sympathetic to MMT and have put posts up on this, it is not my fight, and you are off base in asserting that. In fact, I’ve rejected a large number of Krugman-bashing posts by MMT types. So this is a THIRD time you’ve read something into this exchange that was not there.

          1. Trong Jun Min

            “Obama’s positions are those of a moderate Republican circa 1992”

            – Paul Krugman on Democracy Now 5/17/2012

            Yeah, I’m “reading into positions that aren’t there.” Or rather, you’re refusing to acknowledge positions that are, in fact, there.

          2. Yves Smith Post author


            That quote is not germane. The shift over time does not rebut the point I made above. What is relevant is whether the AE/Dem position sits relative to where Americans are on this issue now. Oh, and not pundits (since Krugman EXPLICITLY rejected pundit opinion as being pertinent). The fact that you are now trying to shift the ground of the discussion is an indication that you can’t meet me square on.

            The issue is where Obama’s stand on the deficit (pro cutting entitlements) sits relative to the population as a whole. Gallup polls over the last 6 decades (including this one) show substantial majorities in favor preserving Social Security. Obama’s position on this is NOT centrist, and it is misleading of Krugman to depict this position as centrist.

  34. chitown2020

    CNBC reporting States diverting money meant for struggling homeowners…CNBC guest said homeowners were reckless and don’t deserve the money anyway.

  35. wheresmehat

    Yves, it must be like hitting your head against a brick wall trying to explain to these knuckleheads what basic terms like “propaganda” means. I’ve found out that most Americans just make up their own definitions for words and go with it.

  36. Lee

    I find it astonishing someone as intelligent as Yves would not understand Krugman’s use of quotation marks with the word “centrist.” Sorta destroys the credibility of the entire post.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, reread his post.

      The logic he sets forth is crystal clear. Per Krugman, AE failed because there is a home for centrists already, and that is the Democratic party. He calls the Dems centrist, no quotation marks, no irony. That means he says AE positions (Peterson funded entitlement cutting) fit within the Democratic party well.

      Shorter form: AE “centrist” is a subset of Dem centrist, and that’s why AE died.

      The quotation marks do not give him an out from his argument or the criticism I am making.

      1. F. Beard

        Shorter form: AE “centrist” is a subset of Dem centrist, and that’s why AE died. Yves Smith

        Succinctly said!

      2. proximity1

        If in fact Krugman’s views were, as you claim, “crystal clear” then surely we wouldn’t have the numerous and well-argued objections seen in this thread which belie that claim of yours.

        This whole dispute is the stuff of circular firing-squads; and when you tell me that I don’t get it, that I’m working against my own interests, you remind me of the 2005 battle over the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) signed on 29 October 2004 but the subject of a national referendum in 2005 and defeated by popular vote in France. During the bruising and acrimonous debate, those who opposed the treaty ratification were denounced as ignorant morons who couldn’t even recognize their own self interests. Fortunately, they ignored that and voted against the TCE–which should have meant its failure, except that the rules of the game were then ignored and the TCE adopted over multiple referenda’s rejection.

        There’s a difference of interpretation going on here and Y., you’re refusing to grant that it could be one over which reasonable people disagree for quite valid reasons. That’s a position which strikes me as doctrinaire, and that also echos the dreary partisan in-fighting among Russian communist party factions–battles over which factions were pure and which tainted.

        It’s classic divide-and-conquer going on here–without any (obvious) participant present being among the ruling elite –which, were any of that class observing, would find all of this stuff deliciously ridiculous.

        There is a (rather, numerous of them) fundamental and lasting distinction between Krugman and Obama. While Obama has done literally nothing to help Americans develop a better understanding of their social and political predicament, Krugman, practically alone among nationally prominent economists when he began, has devoted himself to doing just that–informing Americans, overwhelmingly for the better and in ways that are fully in accord with the most part of your own views as expressed in this blog, about what’s being and what’s been done to them and why and how. Before Krugman came on the scene, no one comparable in position or copmpetence was doing anything like that.

        But, now, to put things metaphorically, the hobbling man on crutches, picked up along the roadside on a blazing hot day by a fellow who came along driving a horse and cart, wants, instead, to “get out and walk” again– he doesn’t like having to listen to the aimiable banter which the cart-driver keeps up with his horse.

        This stuff is bizarre. Krugman, like you, is a fallible human. He may, like you, occasionally get something wrong–maybe even on a point which he should know better. But you’ve shown here that you, too, can trip and fall into a very surprising mistaken view.

        I respect both your intelligence and Krugman’s. Both of you are well above the average person in knowledge of so much that is at the center of discussion here. But on certain points of interpretation of facts, on making distinctions over which facts are of greater or lesser priority, even the most intelligent of people can differ and can err.

        You’re overlooking things of far greater import, Yves, in devoting so much fire at Krugman and over, yes, what I readily agree could be called “small beer”. The U.S. Left is moribund–virtually without resource, standard-bearer, unifying organizing principle, and, most of all, broadly held and accurate knowledge of its plight and the antecedents of that plight. In that light, this quarreling over Krugman’s place and doctrinal purity is truly and astoundingly beside the main point!:

        Much of our frustration and anger stems from the incredibly high hopes, so terribly dashed, that so many had placed in Obama. We’re angry at having been such suckers–those that were—and we’re faced with more painful evidence of how very bereft we are of any tool and aptitude to begin to remedy this situation.

        Krugman has steadily tried, and tried patiently, to advance the only thing that can offer any reasonable hope out this mess–and that is in promoting among the general public, the average non-specialist of politics and economics, a clear and understandable appreciation of what is actually going on and going wrong.

        To say we advance “on crutches” is to over-state positively our actual condition. In fact, we’re basically lame. And, in attacking Krugman, you’re calling on the lame to get out of the horse-cart and “walk”.

        It’s not that we “need” Krugman, oh, no, it’s not. It’s not that he’s but ‘one of a number of “tools in our bag”.”

        We–and in that, I mean, really, financially poor people like myself, a far, far cry from your place on the income-curve– have no “bag” nor any “tools” to put in it.

        I’m a voluntary reader-participant here, not anyone’s disciple–not Krugman’s either. But, unlike you, from where I sit and stand, far from Manhattan high-rise apartments and conferences in Berlin on alternative economics, I know what you apparently aren’t so able to grasp: an average U.S. American has no other advocate comparable to Krugman to explain, to state a case on behalf of those whom the system excludes and devastates.

        You, indeed, do not fill Paul Krugman’s shoes. He reaches many, many more people who have never heard of you or your blog. That’s certainly something we wish were different but it’s nevertheless a fact.

        Other than Krugman, most of those–while I’m quite different in this respect–have no one bothering to explain anything to them.

        I use practically all my time in study, in reading varied sources. To do it, I sacrifice virtually everything else materially–job, income, creature comforts, etc. the only thing I’m “rich” in is my library and my reading time. I’ve used it to learn as much as I can–and I continue to do that. Most people won’t and can’t do that–they don’t have that “luxury”.

        Though I respect your intelligence and insights–for I’ve learned things reading this site–in the same manner that I resented being told in 2005 by the Caviar-Leftists in France, Germany and elsewhere about the “advantages” of the Euro Constitution and how its opponents were dupes, I don’t appreciate being talked down to by someone who reads, on average, far less–and far less widely— than I do because, simply, she’s so very busy doing 763 things at once that she doesn’t have time to do that sort of reading.

        The people in whose income-class I fall need Paul Krugman–whether they know that or not. He’s not faultless but he’s all they have on their side.

        On this matter, you’ve got it wrong about Krugman, and all you have offered in rebuttal is a flat and unsupported assertion that your view, your interpretation of him is correct and the numerous others here who disagree with that interpretation simply can’t have any idea.

        This thread is very unlike what I’d known of your approach to debate so far–at least as far as I’d been familiar since frequenting your site. I’m not, for all that, doing what you apparently are–“writing off” someone over a difference in interpretation, as you’re doing about Krugman. I’ll continue reading and (I hope) posting here because I can accept that you can be mistaken without being a willing “tool” and “toady” of the sort that some here accuse Krugman of being.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Sigh, an overly long post to declare that Yves is wrong about Krugman, with her “flat and unsupported assertion”.

          That’s wrong. In essence, Yves states that PK has very clearly framed Obama as a “centrist” and that he must know better, which makes him a willing propaganda tool. The first assertion, as repeated quotes from PK’s post support, is undeniable: PK makes it quite clear that Obama is a responsible centrist and also that all good American centrists should vote for him. The second assertion, about Krugman’s grasp of reality, must be clear to anyone paying attention to Obama’s three-year record of willful neoliberal policy, literally hundreds of broken pledges and clear intent to cut SS and Medicare (note meetings with George Will, Peterson Foundation Study funding, Cat Food Commission, and his subsequent unilateral attempts to implement Simpson-Bowles). Any public opinionmonger must know this, so as Hugh rightly deducts, Krugman is either deluded, naive and incompetent, or a willing propagandist. Yves asserts the latter, a well-founded position, and most here agree with her.

          That’s it. You clearly disagree, but there are no “flat or unsupported” assumptions at all in Yves’ post or thread comments. It’s interesting that you and most of Yves’ critics post anonymously, leaving your own motives (and/or funding) hidden and therefore more dubious.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Krugman is confusing “centrist” as defined by the conventional wisdom of the Beltway Bubble with centrist as would be defined by consulting the views of the American people through the electoral process, if that were ever to be done.

            Maintaining that confusion is an expensive proposition that many, including Krugman, are well paid to participate in, Krugman among them. His D tribalism is as relevant to the truth of the matter as the soothing tones of NPR news script readers. No matter that most of them may actually believe what they say…

  37. over the top

    So why are all these doomed doughboys popping up out of the trenches, advancing with fixed bayonets to be mowed down and dismembered by Yves’ machine-gun nest in a nightmare of whirling severed limbs? What is it about Krugman that inspires such suicidal loyalty? Is Krugman the next Bernanke: a mild-mannered academic, easy to push around, with a reputation to sacrifice? Is Krugman going to flush his cred for Obama 2012? Are the high-powered bank assholes gonna give Krugman a big admin job and then wipe the floor with him, like they do with Bernanke?

    1. Holy Cow

      I’m inspired by the astonishing failure to follow a simple argument displayed by this Yves person. There are ways to criticize Krugman, but he so incredibly failed to get the point of the article he quoted that it’s honestly sort of impressive.

    1. archer

      Last time it was Krugman v. Yves (oil prices, early 2008), if you had done the same trade you would have lost, big time.

  38. K Ackermann

    This one might be splitting hairs a bit. I’ve seen Krugman heap scorn on Obama, but his signature is that of a liberal. I doubt he feels as free as we do here to bash (what used to be) our party.

    That aside, I’m not sure it will be a grand bargain as much as Obama’s genuinly leaning right. I think he feels he has the left already won… and probably does when he starts reminding people what he’s accomplished. This is what will come out of TV sets:

    Got us out of Iraq.
    Got rid of DADT.
    Voiced support for gay marriage.
    Got health care passed.
    Got Bin Laden
    Set a date for an Afghan exit.
    Brought us back from the bring of economic collapse.

    Every claim needs a big fat asterisk, but there it is anyway.

    He’s running against Mitt Romney. Personally, I’m not voting this election because I strongly refuse to legitimize our system anymore. So of any who are voting, how many plan to pull the lever for Mitt?

    I think Obama has this thing locked, and that’s a shame.

    We need a schism. We need a constitutional convention. We need a government that represents the people, and a court that understands the needs of a human being are fundamentally different than the needs of a corporation. If money is free speech, then so are bullets.

    1. Lambert Strether

      KA, moi aussi. I think Obama’s got it so locked he can toss tiny crumbs to as few factions as possible in a few swing states and win without owing the electorate a thing. That’s my theory, but as in Hollywood, nobody knows anything, “a week is a long time in politics,” and many months to November.

      Anyhow, what has he done for us lately? Write if you get work, and don’t forget to hang by your thumbs!

      1. F. Beard

        Me three!

        Simply not voting can be interpreted as apathy or laziness; going to the polls and voting 3rd party or writing in a candidate or other(?) is a true protest against the poor choices we are offered.

  39. psychohistorian

    I continue to give you credit for taking on the likes of Krugman that sell Hopium to the masses. He is paid well to create and sell this Hopium that bears no resemblance to reality.

    It does not speak well of mankind’s chances to read so many of his deluded faith breathers commenting here. When we see Krugman and his followers living on the Occupy side of the barricades, we may start listening to him again. Until and unless he is part of the solution, he is part of the problem that is killing mankind.

    Keep on good woman!

    1. Otto J

      But is he selling hopium here? I’m reading it that he is disappointed in Obama, what with admitting that he’s right in line with the Friedmans of this world. The tone seems ironic (“too willing”), as Krugman has not really a history of advocating cat food for seniors, has he? He may be too timid to really go after Obama (a right winger in historical perspective – but how many NYT readers have a historical perspective? Or Fox watchers?), and too beholden to the D-label, but here he seems to be denying the hopium. More of this sort, please!

      Anyway, we are all fucked, as it is Obama vs. Romney, and everybody loses. Yay.

  40. Bill B

    I don’t read Krugman as an endorsement of Obama, he said that the centrists would vote for Obama, which given Krugman’s frequent criticisms of Obama on stimulus, etc., is hardly an endorsement. So, Yves does some mind reading here with her own filters on.

  41. Holy Cow

    What a bizarre and stupid criticism of Krugman. It’s even more amazing that so many people in the comments also miserably fail to understand Krugman’s view.

    The Thomas Friedman styled “centrism” that was pushed by the failed group is idiotic because they complain about the extremism of the two parties and then call for policy objectives that have been advanced by the Democrats. I defy someone to provide a policy measure held dear by centrists that has not been proposed by the Obama administration.

    Krugman has LONG railed against this ridiculous holier-than-though centrism. It’s a joke. By making fun of the Friedmans, he is not supporting those policy objectives. It is CLEAR that Krugman advocates for policies to the left of Obama and these “centrists.”

    Krugman is criticizing the idea that a third party founded on finding the middle ground between Democrats and Republicans will be the solution to our financial woes. This cannot happen because, again, the Democrats are a centrist party and their policy positions have shown themselves to be inadequate.

    This blog post has been a massive failure of reading comprehension. The author should frankly be embarrassed.

  42. Holy Cow

    Jesus, who is this Yves Smith? What a total hack or incompetent, I can’t tell:

    “Krugman has a history of falling in with the party after taking “correct” positions. Look at TARP. He was an initial opponent, then fell in line after the initial defeat in Congress. He’s now trumpeting Obamacare.”

    The basic source of your reading comprehension failures is the inability to distinguish criticism of Republican attacks aimed at Obama from advocacy of Obama’s policy positions.

    Krugman has criticized TARP from the beginning, saying it was too small. He has never changed that position. I defy you to produce an actual bit of his writing that could be considered “falling in line.” What he does do is reject the Republican attacks on TARP as failed or useless or whatever the Republican goofball talking point is at the time.

    Here’s a Krugman post from May 14, 2012:

    “Actually, I made exactly the same argument in November 2008, part of my pleading with the incoming Obama team to go big on stimulus. Unfortunately, the memo actually sent to the president said just the opposite, arguing that it would be easier to beef up an inadequate stimulus than to pare back an overlarge one.


    That’s falling in line? Do you read his work? Every day he provides data and argument against austerity. He rails about the failures of the Obama administration and how we’re doomed to a longer depression because Obama has bought into wrong-minded policies.

    And on health care you’ve made the same stupid mistake. Krugman advocated for single payer from the beginning, he still does. The Obama health care reform, however, is better than the status quo, so he defends it from idiotic Republican attacks (death panels, explodes the deficit…). He also points out that, you know, the whole thing was a Republican plan:

    “These days, Heritage strives mightily to deny the obvious; it picks at essentially minor differences between what it used to advocate and the plan Democrats actually passed, and tries to make them seem like a big deal. But this is disinformation. The essential features of the ACA — above all, the mandate — are ideas Republicans used to support.”

    The proprietor of this blog is either seriously incapable of following someone’s argument or he’s a hack of some sort. The work displayed here is just awful.

    1. F. Beard

      Yves has started a well earned vacation today otherwise she’d probably be handing you your head right now.

      1. Holy Cow

        Then all you wonderful posters can spend your day looking up for a single bit of evidence suggesting that Krugman “fell in line” with Obama’s stimulus when he was criticizing it less than a week ago.

        Go for it. Include the link to the full piece. 99% of Krugman criticism involves taking his words out of context.

  43. Holy Cow

    And by the way, for all you tards trying to understand Krugman’s point in the excerpt quoted by Smith, re-read it understanding that Krugman constantly mocks “serious” pundits and their “reasonable” policy positions.

    That post was loaded with sarcasm. Smith missed it BAAAAAADLY. So, it seems, have most of the people commenting.

    Turn on your irony detectors, try again.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      This is your brain on the blue pill. “The Obama health care reform, however, is better than the status quo …”

      And Krugman, from the post at hand: “…there already is a centrist party in America, the Democrats … the large number of people who believe in all the good stuff the centrists claim to favor are, you know, going to vote for Obama.”

      Of course if you have no rational arguments, you can always say PK was writing sarcasm and finally resort to calling people tards, bizarre, sutpid, and hacks. That will be especially persuasive.

  44. C

    What’s missing in all of the discussion of AE is I think a real understanding of what it was, an attempt at top-down organizing. I won’t call it Astroturf as the organizers really did, I think, want their stated goals even if not everyone buys their line. Rather I think of it as “laying sod”. They wanted to create a uniform field of green grass by rolling it out and they (or at least the well-connected board members) just *knew* that everyone would back them once they built it. Catch is they built it and noone came.

    The other problem with AE was their focus on internet voting which has awful security and should scare any reasonably security-minded individual.

  45. Brooklin Bridge

    It’s interesting to note that Atkins at Hullabaloo didn’t take much time to pounce on Eyves for her audacity in criticizing the one, the only Paul Krugman when he is carrying water for the one, the only king Obama.


    Eves can take plenty of criticism from such irrelevant water carrying wipers du derriére as Atkins, but it’s amazing how fast the knives come out when you are critical even indirectly of Obama’s obsession with cat food for the elderly.

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