Krugman The Clairvoyant

[Paul Krugman] has a negative view of Bernie Sanders “Why I Haven’t Felt the Bern “ which links to his column on insulting Dixie.

The post is brief and a bit odd — Krugman criticizes Sanders for:

“… the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media.

“In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification.”

Disagreeing with Paul Krugman? 1, Robert Waldmann, Angry Bear, yesterday

I posted the following in the Comments thread:

Robert, you quoted two seminal sentences from Krugman’s blog post, but you failed to quote the preceding paragraph and therefore missed Krugman’s real point: that he possesses powers of clairvoyance and knew last spring that eventually some economist not connected with Sanders’ campaign would publish erroneous findings about economic gains from the government spending on some of Sanders’ policy proposals and that a couple of top people in the campaign would announce those findings, and that Sanders would make no inroads with elderly and middle-aged African-Americans in the South and then make dumb claims that Southern primary results shouldn’t have the impact they have due to their frontload in the primary and caucuses schedule since those states are mostly very Republican ones.

That said, you did zero in on Krugman’s mystifying claims, first, that Sanders is saying that single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it—an assertion by Krugman that is both flatly false or represents a deep understanding by Krugman of Sanders’ actual statements—and, second, that it is dishonest and improper for a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination for president to propose single-payer.  Or, for that matter, to propose ANYTHING that isn’t simply a tweaking of the status quo.

And then there’s the issue of why Krugman hasn’t noticed, or pretends not to have noticed, that at the heart of Sanders’ break-up-the-big-banks argument is that those few financial institutions—including those like Goldman Sachs and Morgan-Stanley that do not accept ordinary deposits and make ordinary business and personal loans, but that do do things such as buy and sell mortgage-backed securities banks—control vast amounts of wealth and correspondingly have vast amounts of economic and political power.  And you do address that.

It really IS outright dishonest of Krugman to claim, again and again and again, that Sanders’ single concern about the size of the big banks is that they could again trigger a financial and economic meltdown unless they are bailed out by the federal government.  It is by no means the only issue that Sanders mentions with respect to those institutions.  But is an important one.   And the head of the FDIC is in agreement with that, which you would think Krugman would acknowledge when he criticizes Sanders, but doesn’t.

And I downright love your questioning of the basis for Krugman’s obsession with accusations by some Sanders supporters that Krugman, etc., are members of the establishment, personally corrupt, and such—and his odd passive phrasing of it there.

But now that he has challenged assertions that he is a member of the establishment, he might care to address the larger issue of whether he thinks Clinton is—and if he does, whether he thinks she should stop playing cutesy games about the meaning of the word and stop denying that she is indeed, rather obviously, a longtime, high-profile member of it.

Which as I mentioned in my post just below yours, she did again claim at Thursday’s debate.

Specifically, in that preceding paragraph of Krugman’s that I reference, which is the opening paragraph of his post, he writes:

Today’s column offers an opportunity to say, for the record, why I haven’t been the Bernie booster a lot of people apparently expected me to be. For the business about discounting Clinton support as coming from “conservative states” in the “Deep South” actually exemplifies the problem I saw in the Sanders campaign from the beginning, and made me distrust both the movement and the man.

So, okay, we get it.  Paul Krugman isn’t just a great economist (which he is; no sarcasm intended there).  He’s also clairvoyant, prescient, a talented tarot card reader.  He’s just not all that good, or for that matter, all that honest a political analyst. He either has no actual idea why Sanders’ campaign really matters or he pretends not to.