Aside from Newt Gingrich, the last person I can recall who casually used “phony” as a part of everyday conversation was Holden Caulfied — the iconic, petulant teenage character from Salinger’s classic, “Catcher in the Rye.” Today, we add Paul Krugman to that list. It’s good to see he has been reading books again. Maybe it will lend a certain degree of fresh ideas to his personal vendettas (but I doubt it.)
Krugman, it turns out, isn’t much a fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie… Stunning, I know… Then again, Krugman probably isn’t even a fan of President Barack Obama.
Obama, after all, refused to pass the $5,000,000,000,000 stimulus that would have been required to satisfy The Krugman’s demand for full employment. (The man, like him or hate him, is Keynesian to his core. But let’s say this: he makes Obama look like a fiscal hawk by comparison.)
Here’s the scoop on this Krugman/Christie kerfuffle. Krugman says we should consider Christie a “phony” because he wants to push through tax cuts despite less than optimistic revenue forecasts for the state of New Jersey. Krugman’s bottom line is this:
For the modern American right doesn’t care about deficits, and never did. All that talk about debt was just an excuse for attacking Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps. And as for Mr. Christie, well, he’s just another fiscal phony, distinguished only by his fondness for invective.
So Krugman is using Christie as a sort of straw man to attack other Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. What he means to imply – although perhaps he lacks the courage to make such outlandish claims? — is that Republican care only about cutting taxes for their friends, while flipping the bird to the lower classes.
On its face, such an argument is outlandish, but that’s hardly a first for the left’s great Keynesian warrior. If he means to say that the GOP believes the federal government to be bloated and corrupt to its core, he’s hit the nail on its head. But that isn’t Krugman’s argument. Rather, it’s that we need to make DC more of a bloated and corrupt place in order to save our nation from itself.
There’s something terribly ironic here. Krugman is arguing that we still need a massive stimulus package — because only government spending can right the economic ship. And yet, when Republicans like Ryan appear willing to compromise — by not enacting trillions of dollars in immediate cuts (and instead phasing them in slowly so as to prevent suffering) — Krugman calls them phonies.
The Ryan plan isn’t perfect, of course, but it understands that you can’t change in a day what took seven decades to create. The welfare leviathan — principally the policies enacted during the New Deal and Great Society — has succeeded in its aims of demolishing the family unit and building dependency to the state.
To ease away from these unhealthy trends will require time and persistence. Likewise, it will take time and persistence for Christie to turn around New Jersey.
Chris Christie may be a lot of things, but he is far from a “phony.” While governing a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president in a generation, he has already managed to find considerable success. He instituted a property tax cap, proposed (and remains committed to) across-the-board tax cuts, and has dramatically increased the confidence of New Jersey residents in the efficacy of their state government. That’s an amazing success story for one of the most over-taxed and over-regulated states in the Union. And unlike Krugman, Christie actually has to govern in the real world. (Perhaps the Krugman would like to participate in a kind of “take your out-of-touch economist to work day”?)
Here’s my bottom line: When people who don’t have an ideological axe to grind attack public servants, pay attention. But when they’re clearly on the warpath, pay them no heed. Such is the case with Mr. Krugman, who, after all, is a trusted source of information who has never, ever, ever, ever stretched or misrepresented data to serve his own ends.