Opinion

Krugman unhinged

Photo of Jim Huffman
Jim Huffman
Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution

We all have heard, or read on the Internet, claims that President Obama is a Marxist and/or a Muslim extremist who wants nothing more than the downfall of America, and that he is willing to sacrifice American lives and prosperity to these ambitions. Maybe the few folks making those claims actually believe them, but there is not a shred of evidence they are true. In fact they are so preposterous no legitimate news outlets would report them as anything but the unsubstantiated nonsense they are. And we know well the deserved outrage and ridicule that descends from the left on these hapless fantasists.

Of course conspiracy theorists on all sides have every right to spout their vitriol from whatever megaphone they can find. We trust to the marketplace of ideas that such nonsense will bounce harmlessly along the bottom and around the edges of constructive dialogue, and that respectable news sources will sort the wheat from the chaff.

So consider this from Monday’s New York Times opinion page: “a literal description of … [the Romney-Ryan health care] plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.” That could only be Paul Krugman, completely unhinged.

No surprise there, but the mystery is why The New York Times continues to print Krugman’s endless rants about the inadequacy of the stimulus spending and now this: a bald assertion that candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan “want” to let some Americans “die” so that a few wealthy folks can have more income.

The venerable Times has long claimed that it publishes “all the news that’s fit to print.” So maybe they can claim Krugman’s outrageous assertion is opinion, not news, but he does assert it as fact — Romney and Ryan “want” people to “die” for the benefit of the wealthy. News or opinion, it’s not fit to print in one of America’s leading newspapers.

Krugman knows full well that Romney and Ryan believe Medicare is destined for bankruptcy, sooner because of Obamacare, and that people will die prematurely for lack of health care if Medicare becomes insolvent. They have reasons for those beliefs. Krugman also knows that Romney and Ryan believe that cutting taxes for everyone will stimulate investment and job creation, with rising incomes yielding as much or more tax revenue than is lost from the lower rates. They have reasons for those beliefs as well. Krugman disagrees with their reasoning, which should invite a debate about who is right and who is wrong. It should not invite an accusation that Romney and Ryan want people to die for the good of the wealthy.

Little wonder our politics is filled with the detritus of personal insult and character assassination when our “thought leaders” spout putrid nonsense on the pages of The New York Times. Of course The Times is not alone among the nation’s newspapers in publishing such trash, but it, like Krugman, should know better.

So we are left to trust in the marketplace of ideas — to trust that Krugman’s slander, along with claims that Obama is basically anti-American, will bounce harmlessly along the bottom and around the edges of constructive dialogue.

Jim Huffman is the dean emeritus of Lewis & Clark Law School, the co-founder of Northwest Free Press and a member of the Hoover Institution’s De Nault Task Force on Property Rights, Freedom and Prosperity.