Opinion | Warren, Bloomberg and What Really Matters – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Dems should be talking about financialization and fraud.

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

“Wednesday’s Democratic debate was far more informative than previous debates. What we learned, in particular, was that as a presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg is a great businessman — and that Elizabeth Warren remains a force to be reckoned with.

Both lessons ran very much counter to the narrative that the news media has been telling in recent weeks. On one side, there has been a palpable eagerness on the part of some news organizations and many pundits to elevate Bloomberg; on the other side, complaints by Warren supporters about her “erasure” from news coverage and polling aren’t wrong.

What does all this mean for the nomination? I have no idea. But maybe the Warren-Bloomberg confrontation will help refocus discussion away from so-called Medicare for all — which isn’t going to be enacted, no matter who wins — to an issue where it matters a lot which Democrat prevails. Namely, are we going to do anything to rein in the financialization of the U.S. economy?

During the U.S. economy’s greatest generation — the era of rapid, broadly shared growth that followed World War II — Wall Street was a fairly peripheral part of the picture. When people thought about business leaders, they thought about people running companies that actually made things, not people who got rich through wheeling and dealing.”

Opinion | Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“The thing is, Bernie Sanders isn’t actually a socialist in any normal sense of the term. He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries and replace markets with central planning; he has expressed admiration, not for Venezuela, but for Denmark. He’s basically what Europeans would call a social democrat — and social democracies like Denmark are, in fact, quite nice places to live, with societies that are, if anything, freer than our own.

So why does Sanders call himself a socialist? I’d say that it’s mainly about personal branding, with a dash of glee at shocking the bourgeoisie. And this self-indulgence did no harm as long as he was just a senator from a very liberal state.

But if Sanders becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, his misleading self-description will be a gift to the Trump campaign. So will his policy proposals. Single-payer health care is (a) a good idea in principle and (b) very unlikely to happen in practice, but by making Medicare for All the centerpiece of his campaign, Sanders would take the focus off the Trump administration’s determination to take away the social safety net we already have.”

Opinion | Does It Matter Who the Democrats Choose?  – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

At this point, the Democratic presidential nomination is very much up in the air. Not only is it unclear who will be the nominee; it’s unclear whether the nominee will be a centrist like Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar, or a representative of the party’s left like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Whoever wins, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the other side.

So I’d like to offer an opinion that will probably anger everyone: In terms of actual policy, it probably doesn’t matter much who the Democrats nominate — as long as he or she wins, and Democrats take the Senate too.

If you’re a centrist worried about the gigantic spending increases Sanders has proposed, calm down, because they won’t happen. If you’re a progressive worried that Biden might govern like a Republican, you should also calm down, because he wouldn’t.

In practice, any Democrat would probably preside over a significant increase in taxes on the wealthy and a significant but not huge expansion of the social safety net. Given a Democratic victory, a much-enhanced version of Obamacare would almost certainly be enacted; Medicare for All, not so much. Given a Democratic victory, Social Security and Medicare would be protected and expanded; Paul Ryan-type cuts wouldn’t be on the table.

Opinion | How Trump Got Trickled Down – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

“One thing many people forget about the 2016 election is that as a candidate, Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of Republican. Unlike the mainstream of his party, he declared, he would raise taxes on the rich and wouldn’t cut programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that ordinary Americans rely on. At the same time, he would invest large sums in rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

He was lying.

Trump’s only major legislative achievement, the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, was absolutely standard modern Republicanism: huge tax cuts for corporations, plus tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. The only unconventional aspect of the legislation was the variety of new tax scams it made possible, like the benefits for investors in “opportunity zones,” which were supposed to help poor communities but have actually enriched billionaire real estate developers.

Trump also came very close to passing a health care “reform” that would have imposed savage cuts on Medicaid, eliminated protections for those with pre-existing conditions and taken away health insurance from more than 30 million Americans.”

“. . . .  The question now is whether Trump will pay any price for betraying all his promises. Democrats took the House in 2018 largely because of the popular backlash against his attempt to destroy Obamacare. But there’s a real danger that Democrats will blow the election by making it a referendum on ambitious ideas like so-called Medicare for all that are unlikely to become reality, rather than on Trump’s ongoing efforts to destroy programs Americans love.”

Opinion | The Triumph of Fiscal Hypocrisy – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“Still, it is indeed a strong economy. But if we ask what lies behind that strength, the main answer is an explosion in the federal budget deficit, which exceeded $1 trillion last year. And the story of how that happened has deeply disturbing implications for the future of U.S. politics.

Let’s go back for a minute to early 2009, when the economy was imploding and desperately needed help in the form of deficit spending. The Obama administration did indeed propose a significant stimulus plan — but it was much too small relative to the size of the problem, largely because the administration wanted to win bipartisan support and wasn’t willing to use reconciliation to bypass the filibuster.

This isn’t hindsight. In January 2009 I was practically tearing my hair out over the inadequacy of the stimulus, and warned of a scenario in which “the plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says, ‘See, government spending doesn’t work.’” That is, of course, exactly what happened.”

Opinion | Greta Versus the Greedy Grifters – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

“I’ve never been a fan of Davos, that annual gathering of the rich and fatuous. One virtue of the pageant of preening and self-importance, however, is that it brings out the worst in some people, leading them to say things that reveal their vileness for all to see.

And so it was for Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary. First, Mnuchin doubled down on his claim that the 2017 tax cut will pay for itself — just days after his own department confirmed that the budget deficit in 2019 was more than $1 trillion, 75 percent higher than it was in 2016.

Then he sneered at Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist, suggesting that she go study economics before calling for an end to investment in fossil fuels.

Well, unearned arrogance is a Trump administration hallmark — witness Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, claiming that a respected national security reporter couldn’t find Ukraine on a map. So it may not surprise you to learn that Mnuchin was talking nonsense and that Thunberg almost certainly has it right.

One can only surmise that Mnuchin slept through his undergraduate economics classes. Otherwise he would know that every, and I mean every, major Econ 101 textbook argues for government regulation or taxation of activities that pollute the environment, because otherwise neither producers nor consumers have an incentive to take the damage inflicted by this pollution into account.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Paul Krugman.  Here are two of the most popular comments which I endorsed:

Matt

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points out that if you don’t have an economics degree, like Greta, they’ll mock you for not having one. If you do have one, like AOC, they’ll claim it’s illegitimate. They will happily deny logic, science, and environmental consensus in order to protect oligarchy. Not surprisingly, economics fares no better.

4 Replies735 Recommended

 
Socrates commented January 27

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

The human depravity required to be a right-wing science and manmade global warming denier is astounding. The only reasons to indulge in such a stance are a sadomasochistic death wish for oneself, humanity, and the entire animal and plant kingdom…and psychopathic greed.

Or as Greta Thunberg said so eloquently at the UN Climate Action Summit:

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”

“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions?” “There will not be any (realistic) solutions or plans presented…here today, because these (C02) numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.”

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.” “We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

“Thank you.”

— Just say NO to the Gas Oil Petroleum party.

5 Replies663 Recommended

Opinion | Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erik S Lesser/E.P.A., via Shutterstock

“Make no mistake: Health care will be on the ballot this November. But not in the way ardent progressives imagine.

Democrats running for president have spent a lot of time debating so-called Medicare for all, with some supporters of Bernie Sanders claiming that any politician who doesn’t demand immediate implementation of single-payer health care is a corporate tool, or something. But the reality is that whatever its merits, universal, government-provided health insurance isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I say this because even if Democrats take the Senate in addition to the White House, the votes for eliminating private health insurance won’t be there; nor will the kind of overwhelming public support that might change that calculus. In practice, any of the Democratic candidates — even Sanders — will, if victorious, end up building on and improving Obamacare.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins, he will probably find a way to kill Obamacare, and tens of millions of Americans will lose health coverage.”

Opinion | Australia Shows Us the Road to Hell – By Paul Krugman- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“In a rational world, the burning of Australia would be a historical turning point. After all, it’s exactly the kind of catastrophe climate scientists long warned us to expect if we didn’t take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that global warming would cause the nation’s fire seasons to begin earlier, end later, and be more intense — starting around 2020.

Furthermore, though it may seem callous to say it, this disaster is unusually photogenic. You don’t need to pore over charts and statistical tables; this is a horror story told by walls of fire and terrified refugees huddled on beaches.

So this should be the moment when governments finally began urgent efforts to stave off climate catastrophe.

But the world isn’t rational. In fact, Australia’s anti-environmentalist government seems utterly unmoved as the nightmares of environmentalists become reality. And the anti-environmentalist media, the Murdoch empire in particular, has gone all-out on disinformation, trying to place the blame on arsonists and “greenies” who won’t let fire services get rid of enough trees.

These political reactions are more terrifying than the fires themselves.”

“. . . . .  The answer, pretty clearly, is that scientific persuasion is running into sharply diminishing returns. Very few of the people still denying the reality of climate change or at least opposing doing anything about it will be moved by further accumulation of evidence, or even by a proliferation of new disasters. Any action that does take place will have to do so in the face of intractable right-wing opposition.

This means, in turn, that climate action will have to offer immediate benefits to large numbers of voters, because policies that seem to require widespread sacrifice — such as policies that rely mainly on carbon taxes — would be viable only with the kind of political consensus we clearly aren’t going to get.

What might an effective political strategy look like? I’ve been rereading a 2014 speech by the eminent political scientist Robert Keohane, who suggested that one way to get past the political impasse on climate might be via “an emphasis on huge infrastructural projects that created jobs” — in other words, a Green New Deal. Such a strategy could give birth to a “large climate-industrial complex,” which would actually be a good thing in terms of political sustainability.”

Opinion | Apocalypse Becomes the New Normal – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“The past week’s images from Australia have been nightmarish: walls of flame, blood-red skies, residents huddled on beaches as they try to escape the inferno. The bush fires have been so intense that they have generated “fire tornadoes” powerful enough to flip over heavy trucks.

The thing is, Australia’s summer of fire is only the latest in a string of catastrophic weather events over the past year: unprecedented flooding in the Midwest, a heat wave in India that sent temperatures to 123 degrees, another heat wave that brought unheard-of temperatures to much of Europe.

And all of these catastrophes were related to climate change.

Notice that I said “related to” rather than “caused by” climate change. This is a distinction that has flummoxed many people over the years. Any individual weather event has multiple causes, which was one reason news reports used to avoid mentioning the possible role of climate change in natural disasters.

In recent years, however, climate scientists have tried to cut through this confusion by engaging in “extreme event attribution,” which focuses on probabilities: You can’t necessarily say that climate change caused a particular heat wave, but you can ask how much difference global warming made to the probability of that heat wave happening. And the answer, typically, is a lot: Climate change makes the kinds of extreme weather events we’ve been seeing much more likely.”

Opinion | The Party That Ruined the Planet – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“But why have Republicans become the party of climate doom? Money is an important part of the answer: In the current cycle Republicans have received 97 percent of political contributions from the coal industry, 88 percent from oil and gas. And this doesn’t even count the wing nut welfare offered by institutions supported by the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel moguls.

However, I don’t believe that it’s just about the money. My sense is that right-wingers believe, probably correctly, that there’s a sort of halo effect surrounding any form of public action. Once you accept that we need policies to protect the environment, you’re more likely to accept the idea that we should have policies to ensure access to health care, child care, and more. So the government must be prevented from doing anything good, lest it legitimize a broader progressive agenda.

Still, whatever the short-term political incentives, it takes a special kind of depravity to respond to those incentives by denying facts, embracing insane conspiracy theories and putting the very future of civilization at risk.”

David Lindsay: Bravo Paul Krugman.  I’ve been worried about the cascading effects of the permafrost probably for about four years, and I’m pleased to see you get more concerned. Those of us who have become climate hawks need to bring round the public, who will then bring round the GOP.  I loved your piece, and I hope everyone reads all of it.

I did quibble with your assertion that the GOP “are the world’s only major climate-denialist party.”  The Bolsonara government in Brazil is now allowing the burning and cutting of the Amazon rain forest. 27% of the Amazon rain forest is now gone. In Australia, the green government was overthrown by climate change deniers, who are taking the island continent and hemishere backwards. There are regular reports of governments around the world paying lip service to the Paris accords, while ignoring their paltry pledges. A few Eastern European countries were mentioned. But welcome to the club of science, gloom and hope. I look forward to more from your mighty platform on this most urgent of all issues.