Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Paul Krugman Gets Berned. Er, Burned.

In a speech to a Morgan Stanley group on April 18, 2013, WikiHillary praised the Simpson­Bowles deficit reduction plan, which included reforming the tax code to increase investment and entrepreneurship and raising certain taxes and trimming some spending and entitlements to make them more sustainable.

The ultimate shape of that grand bargain could take many forms, she said, but Hillary stressed behind closed doors: “Simpson-­Bowles … put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues and we have to incentivize growth. It’s a three-­part formula.”

She is right. We’ll never get out of this economic rut, and protect future generations, unless the business and social sectors, Democrats and Republicans, all give and get something — and that’s exactly where WikiHillary was coming from.

WikiHillary for President, Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, today

Eeewwwwwe.  I mean, um … yikes.

Friedman, of course, has spent the last decade or more obsessively pushing a “Grand Bargain.”  He says in today’s column that he wishes Clinton had campaigned on this.  In order to build an electoral mandate for it, see.

Seriously; he says this.

Paul Krugman, by contrast, has spent the eight years or so trashing deficit mania, and the last five years mocking Simpson-Bowles.  And Simpson and Bowles.  And their ilk.  Including Thomas Friedman.

Also in Friedman’s column today:

In an October 2013 speech for Goldman Sachs, Clinton seemed to suggest the need to review the regulations imposed on banks by the Dodd­Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2010. Her idea was not to get rid of all of the rules but rather to make sure they were not imposing needless burdens that limited lending to small businesses and start­ups.

As Clinton put it, “More thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don’t kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.” Again, exactly right.

Friedman thinks this, too, would have been a hit with the public if only Clinton had had the guts to campaign on it.

Krugman in his Twitter feed has been pushing the proposition that Clinton really, honestly, dammit, was the strongest possible Democratic nominee to beat Trump, cuz she so deftly baited him during the first debate into his weeklong meltdown about that former Miss Universe, and no other candidate would have thought to do that.  Then again, there are a few possible candidates whose victory would have been assured without that.  But, whatever. Candidates who speak like this, for example.*

And he responded to some pundits’ dismay at the tail-wagging-the-dog role that Clinton’s campaign consultants and friends—as Frank Bruni put it recently, the extensive array of Clinton whisperers—who crafted everything from minutia to the very raison d’être for her candidacy, by insisting that that’s what consultants do.  Making me wonder why we don’t just cut to the chase and cut out the puppet, and nominate a consultant instead.

None of this matters now, of course.  I’ll reiterate, yet again, that I believe that Clinton is a genuinely different candidate, politician, and in important respects, person now than she was until recently.  And I support her wholeheartedly now.  But even if she were who she was in 2013 I’d be supporting her, if grudgingly.

But the instant I read that Friedman column—particularly the part about Clinton telling Morgan Stanley she supports Simpson-Bowles—I thought of Krugman.  And wondered whether upon reading that, if he did, he was moving close enough to the bonfire to feel a tad Berned.


*The link, inadvertently omitted originally, is to an op-ed by Elizabeth Warren in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “Elizabeth Warren: Trump didn’t invent the ‘rigged election’ myth. Republicans did.” The second Friedman excerpt also was not indented here originally.  All is now corrected.  10/20 at 2:12 p.m.

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Dean Baker Schools Simpson on Social Security

by Bruce Webb

Dean asks:

1) How much higher are real wages projected to be in 2040 than today? In other words, how much richer do we expect the average worker to be 30 years from now?

2) How did the 2010 Trustees Report change the projections for 2040 wages compared with the 2009 report?

3) If we solve the projected shortfall in Social Security entirely by raising the payroll tax, what percent of the gain in real wages over the next 30 years would have to go to pay the tax?

4) What percent of real wage gains over the last 30 years was absorbed by the increase in Social Security payroll taxes?

5) What percent of the projected long-term budget shortfall is due to the inefficiencies of the US health care system?

6) How much wealth should we expect near retirees to have to support themselves in retirement?

7) What percent of older workers have jobs in which they can reasonably be expected to work at into their late 60s?

Dean Baker takes Al to school. And then to the woodshed out back.
Senator Simpson’s Quick Budget Quiz

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Alan Simpson

Firedoglake takes on Simpson: Alan Simpson: Cutting Social Security Benefits to “Take Care of the Lesser People in Society”

…cuts he would recommend to the President and Congress on CNBC, Simpson said “We are going to stick to the big three,” meaning Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His sentiments haven’t changed.

(Rdan here…the transcript reads faster than the talk. I really worry about rational thought on the part of some of the players in the Senate. I received a fund raising letter from the Democratic National Party a few days ago. My personal response will be a short letter instead of a check, and separate checks to local races of my choosing.)

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