and no, in The Real Referendum, his Monday column for The New York Times, the Nobel Laureate is not raising a question of the election being stolen. He operates from an assumption that the election is not, as the Republicans had expected, a referendum on the President where he would be found wanting. Instead he sees it like this:
Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy.Krugman, assuming the President would win such a referendum against Romney/Ryan, then offers this:
If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?If you think that is a reference to the President still supporting the Simpson-Bowles framework in the search for the so-called "Grand Bargain" in the lame duck session, you would be correct.
Please keep reading.
If the direction of the conventional wisdom is for Obama to pursue such a path, Krugman argues that there are three reasons for Obama to say no.
1. Contrary to much of the political rhetoric, we are NOT facing any kind of fiscal crisis, rather
U.S. borrowing costs are at historic lows, with investors actually willing to pay the government for the privilege of owning inflation-protected bonds.Instead of worrying about deficits Krugman argues government policy should be focused on things like last year's proposal for a jobs act.
2. We do not have an entitlements problem, but rather a health-care problem, which have at least partly addressed with Obama's signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act that the Republicans so want to repeal.
It’s true that there’s also, even aside from health care, a gap between the services we’re promising and the taxes we’re collecting — but to call that gap an “entitlements” issue is already to accept the very right-wing frame that voters appear to be in the process of rejecting.3. Simpson Bowles is a bad plan. Among the aspects with which Krugman disagrees is the proposal to raise the Social Security retirement age, ostensibly because American longevity has increased. But
This is an idea Washington loves — but it’s also totally at odds with the reality of an America in which rising inequality is reflected not just in the quality of life but in its duration. For while average life expectancy has indeed risen, that increase is confined to the relatively well-off and well-educated — the very people who need Social Security least. Meanwhile, life expectancy is actually falling for a substantial part of the nation.You get a sense of the cogency of the column, which given Krugman's track record should surprise no one.
Krugman argues that an Obama win would be a mandate for continuing the current social safety net. Yet he worries - as do many here - of what might still happen in a lame-duck session.
So he concludes with a clear warning for the President in pursuing a 'GRAND BARGAIN" withint the framework of Simpson-Bowles:
It would be a terrible mistake, both politically and for the nation’s future, for him to let himself be talked into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.Read the Krugman.
Pass it on -
- to any Member of the current House or of the United States Senate that you know.
Let them know you will be watching.
That in voting for Obama and for as many Democrats as we can get into the forthcoming Congress, we are not validating the "Grand Bargain" and we do not accept Simpson-Bowles.
How tragic it would be to get functional control of the Senate (assuming Reid modifies the filibuster) and actual control of the House only to have that be meaningless because the administration and the current Congress have given away the candy store before the new Congress is sworn in.