Paul Krugman v. Meet the Press: We’re sorry to tell you the truth about this:
In one way, Paul Krugman still doesn’t seem willing to say it.
In this morning’s column, he presents some highly relevant facts. Here’s how he ends his column:
KRUGMAN (11/12/12): So the deficit scolds, while posing as the nation’s noble fiscal defenders, have in practice shown themselves both hypocritical and incoherent. They don’t deserve to have a central role in policy discussion; they really don’t even deserve a seat at the table. And they certainly don’t deserve to have one of their own appointed as Treasury secretary.“We should be having a serious discussion,” Krugman says.
I don’t know how seriously to take the buzz about appointing Erskine Bowles to replace Timothy Geithner. But in case there’s any reality to it, let’s recall his record. Mr. Bowles, like others in the deficit-scold community, has indulged in scare tactics, warning of an imminent fiscal crisis that keeps not coming. Meanwhile, the report he co-wrote was supposed to be focused on deficit reduction—yet, true to form, it called for lower rather than higher tax rates, and as a “guiding principle” no less. Appointing him, or anyone like him, would be both a bad idea and a slap in the face to the people who returned President Obama to office.
Look, we should be having a serious discussion about America’s fiscal future. But a serious discussion is exactly what we haven’t been having these past couple years—because the discourse was hijacked by the wrong people, with the wrong agenda. Let’s show them the door.
Paul Krugman still doesn’t get it! No such discussion occurred yesterday as Meet the Press turned 65—and no such discussion will ever occur on such establishment programs.
Instead, we’ll get comments like this from Doris Kearns Goodwin, who now seems to live on the NBC set:
GOODWIN (11/11/12): You know, I think when journalists write about this campaign, the fun part will be all the moments that we experienced together, the gaffes that Romney made, "the 47 percent," the things Obama said at the first debate, but the fundamental loss of this campaign probably took place in the Republican primaries when they put out a group of people who were so far off the political cliff on issues that mattered to Latinos, to women and to young people and that is the new governing coalition.“The fun part will be all the moments that we experienced together.” This is the person who went on the air the morning after to discuss that Bush-Kerry debate—though she quickly acknowledged that she hadn’t actually watched it.
You see, the Red Sox were on TV that night—and so, she chose to watch that! The next morning, Goodwin rattled some RNC scripts.
How bad was Kerry? He was so bad, he made her think of Al Gore!
Yesterday, this truly horrible hack did little better.
Krugman still isn’t willing to say that our public discussion is essentially fixed. Friday, on our liberal channel, we saw a trio of pundits refuse to contemplate the need to protect our social insurance programs against the push for quick resolution to the “fiscal cliff.”
Even David Corn, once of The Nation, refused to speak up on that “liberal” program, even as Krugman was openly mocked. Yesterday, Gregory played tape from the new Lincoln film—and this is what Goodwin advised the current president to do:
GREGORY: The polarization then, so profound. As this president now strives to be a great president, like Lincoln, what is his challenge to break this polarization? Does it all come back to bipartisanship at some level?Goodwin, playing the role of a TV liberal, said that Obama needs to hire some top CEOs. He needs to let Romney run things!
GOODWIN: What it comes back to is a combination of conviction, which is what we just saw Lincoln talking about, and the willingness to compromise.
Without a question— In fact, the whole movie is about the idea that, in a session of Congress, after the election in 1864, they have to get this amendment passed and they have to do everything they can. At one point, he says, "I’m clothed by immense power and I’m going to have you use it to get these votes, no matter what you have to do."
I’m just going to go back to what Bob [Woodward] said. I think what the president needs to do is to bring some CEOs into his top positions. FDR did that. He brought in the head of Chrysler. He brought in the head of Sears and Roebuck. What about bringing Romney in to deal with this whole problem of how do you keep manufacturing here rather than going abroad? What incentives do you use? What sanctions do you use against countries that are not dealing fairly?
I think you bring people in but you don’t lose your conviction. So you’ve got to start with what matters to you but then you compromise on everything else. And I think it can be done.
“No matter what you have to do,” he has to avoid going over the so-called cliff. So spake Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Goodwin wasn’t alone in her rather fuzzy exhortation. Earlier, Gregory described one of Obama’s biggest mistakes. Jim Cramer and Doris signed on:
GREGORY: Jim, I always thought that one of the big mistakes of the first Obama term is that he never had a moment in the Rose Garden where he was flanked by the biggest business leaders in America and said, “Look, we’re going to work together in common cause to deal with this economy, to deal with our fiscal position, and ultimately affect America`s influence in the rest of the world.” Can he have that moment now?Obama’s coalition should pressure the Congress! But what should they pressure the Congress to do? Aside from a four-point jump in the top tax rate, no one offered a single idea at any point in this program.
CRAMER: Yes, because this time the leaders need him. The CEOs need him, because their businesses are going to go down. Their stocks are going to go down. This is what they care about. They care about their own compensation, and they care about higher stock prices. You’re going to get declining compensation and I’m giving you lower stock prices for certain without a deal.
GREGORY: All right. Jim Cramer, from Mad Money, Jim, thanks very much. Doris, your point about this, as you look at it.
GOODWIN: Well, I think what the president has to do to build his mandate is to play both an inside game and an outside game. He should use that political White House as an asset, more than he has done before. I would have a cocktail hour every night, have 40 Republicans there, 40 Democrats there, night after night after night. Do what LBJ did, do that more than he has done.
But the outside game means he has to mobilize that base. That base was energized on election night. He said to them, “Your job is not done, it is not just voting, it is there to bring pressure on obstructionists if they don`t get a deal done, from the outside in.”
And I think he signaled that, as I say, that night, because he said, “I’ve learned from you, I’m going to be a better president because of you.” That was an amazing statement and I think he has learned that he needs to use the White House as a political asset more inside and he has got to get those people.
The tea party pressured everybody that summer. Why can’t his coalition, which is bigger, pressure people from the outside?
No one suggested that Obama should meet in the Rose Garden with labor leaders. Darlings! On establishment programs like this, such things simply aren't done!
What should Obama refuse to accept? No one was willing to tell us!
Krugman, our long-standing MVP, still doesn’t seem willing to say it. There will be no serious discussion about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as we're stampeded toward a grand bargain. Just as there was no serious discussion of our nation’s absurd health care costs in 2009.
Just as there was no serious discussion of Romney’s crackpot “tax proposal.” Just as there was no discussion whatever of his proposal to kill the estate tax.
Since he started his column in 1999, Krugman has tried to initiate serious discussions. He still doesn’t seem willing to say that no such discussions will ever occur—that the public discussion is essentially fixed, on Hardball and on Meet the Press.
Last Friday, David Corn didn't say what he thinks and knows. And Rachel Maddow will not stand and fight.
If you doubt that last point, just keep watching!