If a Romney presidency didn't frighten the daylights out of me before, it certainly does now after reading Paul Krugman's column this morning. He starts out by saying that President Obama has been wrong about some things because but that "Republicans have been wrong about everything."
Why did the administration get it wrong? It wasn’t exaggerated faith in the power of its stimulus plan; the report predicted a fairly rapid recovery even without stimulus. Instead, President Obama’s people failed to appreciate something that is now common wisdom among economic analysts: severe financial crises inflict sustained economic damage, and it takes a long time to recover.Republicans think the solution our country's economic woes lies in sharp cuts to spending and reducing the debt. It would be amusing that they accuse President Obama for wanting to bring European style governing to the U.S. when it is the Republicans who are pushing the use of austerity measures like many European countries; if it weren't for the fact that if given a chance they really would do it. Krugman explains why "Republicans are dead wrong."
The latest devastating demonstration of that wrongness comes from the International Monetary Fund [PDF], which has just released its World Economic Outlook, a report combining short-term prediction with insightful economic analysis. This report is a grim and disturbing document, telling us that the world economy is doing significantly worse than expected, with rising risks of global recession. But the report isn’t just downbeat; it contains a careful analysis of the reasons things are going so badly. And what this analysis concludes is that a disproportionate share of the bad news is coming from countries pursuing the kind of austerity policies Republicans want to impose on America.And yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, Republicans believe that this is the path to take. They are married to their ideology, and as President Clinton explained when he was a guest on The Daily Show last month.
O.K., it doesn’t say that in so many words. What the report actually says is: “Activity over the past few years has disappointed more in economies with more aggressive fiscal consolidation plans.” But that amounts to the same thing.
Unless you were being driven by ideology instead of by evidence. This is a practical country. We have ideals. We have philosophies. But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence. So you have to mold the evidence to get the answer that you've already decided you've got to have. It doesn't work that way. Building an economy; rebuilding an economy is hard, practical nuts and bolts work.And so last night at the debate Paul Ryan twisted and tied himself into a knot trying to explain how his plan would work, without giving actual numbers as to how he would do it because if he gave the numbers the American public would learn that they don't add up. I wasn't able to find a video clip where Ryan talked about the deficit, but I found this excellent review of the debate with a transcript of that section by Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones:
I thought Paul Ryan was unusually brazen in his defense of the Republican insistence on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Biden made the reasonable point that you could easily vote separately on extending the cuts for the middle class and extending the cuts for the rich, but Republicans refuse to do that: "They’re holding hostage the middle class tax cut to the super wealthy." This was Ryan's response:I did find a video clip of Paul Ryan explaining the 20% income tax decrease that Mitt Romney and he are pushing.
Look, if you taxed every person and successful business making over $250,000 at 100 percent, it would only run the government for 98 days. If everybody who paid income taxes last year, including successful small businesses, doubled their income taxes this year, we'd still have a $300 billion deficit. You see? There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.That's kind of breathtaking, no? First, he says that ending tax cuts for the rich wouldn't solve the entire deficit problem all by itself, so therefore we shouldn't do it. Huh? Then he attempts some jiu jitsu by suggesting that if you're in favor of partly solving the deficit problem with tax hikes on the rich, then "watch out, middle class, the tax bill's coming to you." Double huh? I wonder if anyone fell for that?
And so the next time you hear them say, "Don't worry about it, we'll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share," watch out, middle class, the tax bill's coming to you.
Paul Ryan: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers.Now we have this international report about the world economy that explains what happens when the Republican ideas have been used in other countries.
V.P. Biden: Not mathematically possible.
Paul Ryan: It is mathematically possible. It’s been done before. It’s precisely what we’re proposing.
V.P. Biden (laughing): It has never been done before.
Paul Ryan: It’s been done a couple of times, actually.
V.P. Biden: It has never been done before.
Paul Ryan: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth.
V.P. Biden: Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?
What the monetary fund shows is that the countries pursing the biggest spending cuts are also the countries that have experienced the deepest economic slumps. Indeed, the evidence suggests that in brushing aside the standard view that spending cuts hurt the economy in the short run, the G.O.P. got it exactly wrong. Recent spending cuts appear to have done even more harm than most analysts — including those at the I.M.F. itself — expected.But don't expect Republican politicians to admit to that. They are too invested in their ideology to let actual data and facts get in the way, and amazingly enough they've convinced at least 45% of the country that they are correct. Here's Krugman's frightening conclusion.
And here’s the thing: if Mitt Romney wins the election, the G.O.P. will surely consider its economic ideas vindicated. In other words, politically good things may be about to happen to very bad ideas. And if that’s how it plays out, the American people will pay the price.I live in Polk County, Florida, and last night I attended a training session at the OFA Lakeland Field Office. From now until Election Day, I'm donating every spare minute of my time to helping President Obama get reelected. I was surprised to learn from the Team Leaders that just about every time Romney/Ryan come to Florida they stay here in Lakeland because I was told "Polk County is really important for President Obama." I'm fired up and ready to go! What about you?