Friday, April 08, 2016

Krugman vs. Bernie

Paul Krugman has had lots of praise for Hillary Clinton during the primary contest and criticism of Bernie Sanders.

He joins the Clinton camp's current griping about Bernie actually campaigning for the Presidential nomination (Sanders Over the Edge New York Times 04/08/2016). Bernie's "political theory of change, his waving away of limits, seemed utterly unrealistic."

I don't know what that means except that Bernie would have to fight to get his proposals through Congress. And he's talking about building support for that through things like mobilizing supporters for high turnout in November (which Obama actually achieved in 2008); reviving a 50-state strategy to make the Democrats competitive in all Congressional districts (which Howard Dean started as Democratic National Committee chair got started and Obama discontinued); and, proposing what he really wants and fighting for it. The only way Hillary's "political theory of change" differs from that as far as I can see is that she probably won't put the emphasis Bernie would on boosting turnout, she's not especially interested in a fifty-state strategy (because if you're A Democrat whose preferences lean conservative it's an advantage for the Democrats not to be competitive in many Republican-held Congressional districts), and she won't propose the same kind of far-reaching reforms Bernie will.

And the Republican can be expected to continue their attempts at mass obstruction with either Bernie or Hillary as President.

Krugman even says, "Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro." Krugman, who introduced the useful image of the Confidence Fairy to economic conversation, should know better that to evoke such a (mostly) mythical creatures as the "Bernie Bro." And he concludes the column with this dismissive comment along the lines of what the Clinton camp is promoting at the moment, "The Sanders campaign has brought out a lot of idealism and energy that the progressive movement needs. It has also, however, brought out a streak of petulant self-righteousness among some supporters. Has it brought out that streak in the candidate, too?"

Robert Reich posted this six-point response to Krugman's column today (04/08/2016) on his Facebook page, including addressing bank reform (I've slightly reformatted the text):

Ordinarily I wouldn’t pick on a particular columnist but I respect Paul Krugman. Also, his perch at the New York Times gives him broad influence – especially just two weeks before the important New York State primary. But his piece today (which I’ve attached) is shot through with errors.

  1. 1. The biggest Wall Street banks did indeed precipitate the crisis on Wall Street in 2008 because of their gambling in newfangled financial instruments and fancy derivatives even they didn't understand.
  2. 2. Their size did make a difference because they were so interconnected with other financial entities both in the U.S. and around the world that they were "too big to fail." Today's biggest Wall Street banks are much bigger than they were in 2008.
  3. 3. Size also has a bearing on their political influence. The reason the Glass-Steagall Act was scotched by Bill Clinton's administration, and the Clinton administration wouldn't agree with the CFTC to regulate derivatives, had a lot to do with the influence of Wall Street over the Clinton administration and over Congress. The political power of the biggest players on the Street is even larger today – as evidenced by their capacity to whittle back significant parts of Dodd-Frank in the regulatory process.
  4. 4. Breaking up the biggest banks isn’t a radical idea. In fact, many experts – including the current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (who’s a Republican and a former executive of Goldman Sachs), and the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas -- have called for exactly this.
  5. 5. Bernie's other ideas -- for a single-payer plan, and for free tuition at public institutions of higher education – are sensible, and also backed by many experts. It’s well-established that a single-payer plan would be far less costly and deliver far better care than our own system, which is based on private for-profit insurers. As to free tuition in public universities, we were well on the way to this goal in the 1950s and 1960s. It was and is a logical extension of free K-12 education.
  6. 6. Finally, the current brouhaha over who's "qualified to be president" was arguably started by Hillary Clinton. Personally, I think neither she nor Bernie should be calling the other unqualified, but to blame Bernie for this exchange is simply incorrect.
Thge Young Turks have been giving careful attention to New York Daily News interview that Clinton took advantage of the last few days.

New York Daily News Tries Hatchet Job On Bernie, Fails 04/06/2016:

The Four Layers Of Gotcha Questions 04/06/2016:

NY Daily News: Scary Bernie Hates Israel! 04/07/2016:

Charlie Pierce thinks both Hillary and Bernie handled this in a sub-optimum way. (Reading Between the Lines of Hillary and Bernie's Big Media Battle Esquire Politics Blog 04/07/2016) He uncharacteristically finds himself in the Mugmump position for this particular case:

I'm starting to wonder seriously about both of these people. Neither campaign seems able to avoid the easiest mistakes in optics. Neither one seems to grasp the appetite of the elite political media for a Democratic hooley to correspond to the ongoing one in the Republican Party, because that will allow for the Both Sides In Turmoil narrative that will allow the elite political media to ignore the fact that the top two contenders for the Republican nomination are an ego-driven vulgar talking yam, and an extremist theocrat who believes himself to be blessed by the Almighty to redeem this sinful land. When your opponent is drowning, you throw him the anchor. You don't cling to it yourself. Yeesh.

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