Must-Read: Paul Krugman: La Trahison des Clercs, Economics Edition

December 4, 2017

Must-Read: I would note that the Trumpublicans are unweaving the web of neoconservative foreign policy facts-on-the-ground even as we write: their anger, rage, and… “shrillness”, to coin a word, has substantial policy deviation causes. By contrast, the Trumpublicans “always cut taxes when you can, and rely on the Democrats to clean up your mess” has been Standard Operating Procedure for the Republican Party and for Republican policy economists (with the very honorable exception of Marty Feldstein, when he felt he could afford to be brave) since November 1980. You might say: “but this time there is a 1% of GDP transfer to the top 1% without any growth benefit at all”. The question is: Is that a substantial policy deviation from SOP of the same magnitude as the ones the neocons are facing?: Paul Krugman: La Trahison des Clercs, Economics Edition: “A former government official… asked… have any prominent Republican economists taken a strong stand against the terrible, no good, very bad tax legislation their party just rammed through the Senate?…

…I couldn’t think of any. And this says something not good about the state of at least that side of my profession. We can divide Republican economists into three groups here…. Those enthusiastically endorsing the specific bill… the 137 signatories… a… motley crew….

Second… the Nine Unprofessional Economists…. As Jason Furman and Larry Summers pointed out, they misrepresented the research they claimed supported their position, then denied having said what they said…. Explicit aid and comfort to tax cutters, with an extra dose of dishonesty and cowardice….

A third group, people like Greg Mankiw and Martin Feldstein, who have written in favor of the general idea of lower corporate taxes, which is OK…. But have any of them spoken out about the reality of the actual legislation?… I may have missed some condemnations, but I haven’t seen any. You may say that this is how everyone behaves–if your political side does bad stuff, you go silent….

Consider… neocon foreign policy types. Nobody can accuse me of having a soft spot for the likes of William Kristol, Max Boot, Jennifer Rubin, David Frum, and others…. But… under Trump they have shown real courage: they have proved willing to criticize, harshly and even shrilly, the disastrous governance of our current regime…. The foreign-policy neocon intellectuals, however wrongheaded I may find their ideas, turn out to be men and women with real principles. I wish I could say the same about conservative economists. But I can’t.

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