Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Why Paul Krugman Prefers Trump Over Jeb


Yesterday we looked at how the unicorn-like "reform conservatives" are trying to rationalize what is coming to look like Trumpian inevitability. Oddly enough, at the same time Paul Krugman was publishing a column in the NYTimes about how Trump is right on economics. Jeb, he notes, is giving Trump a pass on racism but attacking him on his economic views, "as a false conservative, a proposition that is supposedly demonstrated by his deviations from current Republican economic orthodoxy: his willingness to raise taxes on the rich, his positive words about universal health care... Mr. Trump is being accused of heresy for not accepting that failed orthodoxy?"
[T]hat tells you a lot about the dire state of the G.O.P. For the issues the Bush campaign is using to attack its unexpected nemesis are precisely the issues on which Mr. Trump happens to be right, and the Republican establishment has been proved utterly wrong.

...So am I saying that Mr. Trump is better and more serious than he’s given credit for being? Not at all-- he is exactly the ignorant blowhard he seems to be. It’s when it comes to his rivals that appearances can be deceiving. Some of them may come across as reasonable and thoughtful, but in reality they are anything but.

Mr. Bush, in particular, may pose as a reasonable, thoughtful type-- credulous reporters even describe him as a policy wonk-- but his actual economic platform, which relies on the magic of tax cuts to deliver a doubling of America’s growth rate, is pure supply-side voodoo.

And here’s what’s interesting: all indications are that Mr. Bush’s attacks on Mr. Trump are falling flat, because the Republican base doesn’t actually share the Republican establishment’s economic delusions.

The thing is, we didn’t really know that until Mr. Trump came along. The influence of big-money donors meant that nobody could make a serious play for the G.O.P. nomination without pledging allegiance to supply-side doctrine, and this allowed the establishment to imagine that ordinary voters shared its antipopulist creed. Indeed, Mr. Bush’s hapless attempt at a takedown suggests that his political team still doesn’t get it, and thinks that pointing out The Donald’s heresies will be enough to doom his campaign.

But Mr. Trump, who is self-financing, didn’t need to genuflect to the big money, and it turns out that the base doesn’t mind his heresies. This is a real revelation, which may have a lasting impact on our politics.

Again, I’m not making a case for Mr. Trump. There are lots of other politicians out there who also refuse to buy into right-wing economic nonsense, but who do so without proposing to scour the countryside in search of immigrants to deport, or to rip up our international economic agreements and start a trade war. The point, however, is that none of these reasonable politicians is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.


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