Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Maybe he's paranoid...: Or maybe it's just because we're out to get him. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest diatribe isn't directed at the Bush administration, but at House Republicans -- certainly a change of pace.
While some new Krugman fodder would be welcome, unfortunately today's column is just a replay of the attacks against the old Newt Gingrich Republican-controlled when they trimmed President Clinton's request for an increase in the school lunch program. Then, Democrats accused the GOP of "slashing" the funding. Of course, the "slash" was not a "slash" as the word is commonly used outside of Washington, D.C.
In our nation's capitol, anytime Person A suggests that less money be spent than Person B wants, Person A is accused of "slashing" spending.
So, with that in mind, we turn to Krugman's column.
[A]s the war began, members of the House of Representatives gave speech after speech praising our soldiers, and passed a resolution declaring their support for the troops. Then they voted to slash veterans' benefits.
Krugman doesn't take on the White House today because he needs the White House's numbers as a foil to use against House Republicans. The Office of Management and Budget's summary for the fiscal year 2004 budget plan shows that, overall, the president continues to spend more on the Department of Veterans Affairs.
From FY2002 to FY2004 the VA budget increased from $26.9 billion to $34.1 billion. Once again, the House GOP's "slash" is actually a reduction in the rate of increase.
Krugman's "digression" in his column is also interesting.
A digression: we have entered a new stage in the tax-cut debate. Until now, the Bush administration and its allies haven't made any effort to explain how they plan to replace the revenues lost because of tax cuts. Now, however, party discipline is starting to crack: a few Republicans in the House and Senate, and many erstwhile supporters on Wall Street are beginning to notice how much we're looking like a banana republic.
Krugman must've been napping. The explanation Republicans have been giving for ages (or at least since the Reagan administration -- seems like ages to me) on replacing revenue "lost" due to tax cuts was that the growth spurred in the economy would create a larger base of wealth to tax. In short, the growing economy would replace the "lost" revenues.
Krugman also takes the Republicans to task for participating in politics while a war is going on.
For the overwhelming political lesson of the last year is that war works ? that is, it's an excellent cover for the Republican Party's domestic political agenda. In fact, war works in two ways. The public rallies around the flag, which means the President and his party; and the public's attention is diverted from other issues.
Well, it works both ways. The war is also an excellent cover for the Democratic Party's unprecedented obstruction on Bush judicial nominees. It's the nature of the seriousness of war that it tends to cloud other issues. Life and death is more serious than comparably petty budget battles. But not to Krugman.
As long as the nation is at war, then, it will be hard to get the public to notice what the flagwavers are doing behind our backs. And it just so happens that the "Bush doctrine," which calls for preventive war against countries that may someday pose a threat, offers the possibility of a series of wars against nasty regimes with weak armies.
Someday the public will figure all this out. But it may be a very long wait.
A substantial majority of the American people do understand the Bush doctrine. Unfortunately Krugman isn't among them. The veiled implication is that Bush plans to start a number of wars to divert public attention from the economy and other domestic problems. It's an extremely cynical and offensive suggestion, especially without any evidence to support it.
But that's not surprising, coming from Krugman.