Monday, January 21, 2008

Note to Krugman: It's Not the Economy

Paul Krugman perpetuates the left's Ronald Reagan take-down effort in his column today.

He focuses on the economic comeback of the 1980s, which is often considered the key element of the Reagan Revolution. But to borrow from James Carville, note to Krugman: It's not the economy (and Krugman's not stupid, so he knows better than to insinuate such).

What Reagan restored was the spirit of American grandeur and readiness to lead. He brought new ideas that moved the country in a dramatically different direction. Instead of telling Americans we can't do it, we can't improve out lives - turn down your thermostat and put on that sweater - he said our best days are ahead of us, and we'll continue to be that shining city on a hill. Reagan rightly belongs in the pantheon of great 20th century presidents.

That's something contemporary leftists can't stand. They hate the glorious exceptionalism Reagan trumpeted. Barack Obama gets it, and his radical antagonists hate it, including Krugman:

Contrast that with Mr. Obama’s recent statement, in an interview with a Nevada newspaper, that Reagan offered a “sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Maybe Mr. Obama was, as his supporters insist, simply praising Reagan’s political skills. (I think he was trying to curry favor with a conservative editorial board, which did in fact endorse him.) But where in his remarks was the clear declaration that Reaganomics failed?

For it did fail. The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen.

When the inevitable recession arrived, people felt betrayed — a sense of betrayal that Mr. Clinton was able to ride into the White House.

Given that reality, what was Mr. Obama talking about? Some good things did eventually happen to the U.S. economy — but not on Reagan’s watch.
Here's Krugman on the conservative Reagan legacy:

I understand why conservatives want to rewrite history and pretend that these good things happened while a Republican was in office — or claim, implausibly, that the 1981 Reagan tax cut somehow deserves credit for positive economic developments that didn’t happen until 14 or more years had passed. (Does Richard Nixon get credit for “Morning in America”?)

But why would a self-proclaimed progressive say anything that lends credibility to this rewriting of history — particularly right now, when Reaganomics has just failed all over again?

Like Ronald Reagan, President Bush began his term in office with big tax cuts for the rich and promises that the benefits would trickle down to the middle class. Like Reagan, he also began his term with an economic slump, then claimed that the recovery from that slump proved the success of his policies.

And like Reaganomics — but more quickly — Bushonomics has ended in grief. The public mood today is as grim as it was in 1992. Wages are lagging behind inflation. Employment growth in the Bush years has been pathetic compared with job creation in the Clinton era. Even if we don’t have a formal recession — and the odds now are that we will — the optimism of the 1990s has evaporated.
Krugman's an economist by training, so he should know better than to spout off such boilerplate left-wing economic baloney. When president Reagan took office the consensus was that the economic crisis of the late-1970s under President Jimmy Carter was the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The recession of 1990-91 is considered mild by economists, and there's considerable debate today that the U.S. economy will face recession this year.

No, Krugman's the one who's rewriting history, in an effort to advance
a left-wing demonization campaign that's picked up steam since a top Democratic contender committed the heresy of praising Reagan as a genuine agent of change.