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Paul Krugman Wonders Where The President He Thought He Was Voting For Went To

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is pretty disappointed in his fellow Nobel Laureate:

What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?

I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.

I guess the first question I’d ask Krugman here, is where the heck have you  been the past two years? Krugman still seems to think we’re dealing with Obama the great orator of the 2008 Presidential campaign, but the reality of the past two years has been quite different from the impression the Barack Obama seems to have given to “progressive” intellectuals like Krugman, who apparently thought he’d ride into office on a wave of victory with the intent of reshaping America to their desires. What they’ve gotten instead is a President who, right off the bat, ceded control over the two central pieces of legislation of  his first term to Congress. As the economy faltered, he told Americans that we were in a recovery that everyone knew didn’t exist. In December, when the Bush tax cuts were set to expire, he went behind the back of his own party and made a (politically smart) deal with the opposition. Then, most recently, he sat on the sidelines for weeks while Senate Democrats and House Republicans were unable to make a deal, then he acceded to Republican demands for spending cuts while holding the line on the relatively unimportant issue of Federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Krugman seems to think that he voted for Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman in November 2008 rather than Barack Obama. This, I suppose, is the problem with hooking your trailer onto a guy who was only in the United States Senate for a year and a half before he started running for President. He didn’t have much of a record, so its easy for him to convince people that he is whatever they want him to be. The problem with that, of course, is that once you win, you have to actually perform and the rose colored glasses starhttp://www.outsidethebeltway.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpt coming off.  This isn’t Obama’s fault as much as it is an indictment of the naivete of supposedly smart people like Krugman.

Krugman goes on to complain about the Administration’s reaction to Paul Ryan’s proposed FY2012 budget:

You might have expected the president’s team not just to reject this proposal, but to see it as a big fat political target. But while the G.O.P. proposal has drawn fire from a number of Democrats — including a harsh condemnation from Senator Max Baucus, a centrist who has often worked with Republicans — the White House response was a statement from the press secretary expressing mild disapproval.

What’s going on here? Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office, Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences. And his political strategists seem to believe that he can win re-election by positioning himself as being conciliatory and reasonable, by always being willing to compromise.

But if you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.

Bruce McQuain responds:

Baloney.  Krugman has to have lived in a cave if he believes the rhetoric has even come close to matching the reality of the Obama presidency.  He is not a transcendent figure by any stretch.  He is, instead, a true exception to the Peter Principle and has indeed risen to a level above his incompetence.

But to Krugman’s last point – Obama believes in one thing – Obama.  And any objective appraisal of his performance in office these past 2+ years cannot give him very high marks on “principle” or a willingness to take a stand.   There’s a reason for that.  Obama traded principle for the achievement of his ambition years ago.  He’s intelligent enough to talk the talk, but he seems absolutely incapable of walking the walk or even attempting to do so.

Again, Krugman must be thinking of some mythical President, perhaps The West Wing’s Josiah Bartlet, because none of that describes the last two years of the Obama Administration.  Of course, much of Krugman’s complaining is fairly phony. He’s going to support Obama for re-election, and, a few months from now, he’ll find some brilliant decision that the President has made and devote a column to it. Yes, he’ll be disappointed again, but he’ll keep coming back like they all do. I think you can call it “Battered Voter Syndrome.”  This isn’t a matter of buyer’s remorse, so much as it is a sucker realizing he’s been had but wanting desperately to believe that the fantasy is true.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dan Collins says:

    This is not the Barack Obama I know!

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  2. Dave says:

    …the reality of the past two years has been quite different from the impression the Barack Obama seems to have given to “progressive” intellectuals like Krugman, who apparently thought he’d ride into office on a wave of victory with the intent of reshaping America to their desires.

    As I remember it, Krugman had no such hopes for Obama, at least during the primary. Krugman wrote pretty regularly about Obama being full of it, lacking the testicular fortitude for real change and blah blah blah. He’s whining now but he was whining then, too.

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  3. Tano says:

    Sorry Doug, but this post seems utterly devoid of any insight, and really only serves as a platform for diverse Obama critics to get in a lot of cheap shots.

    Krugman was virulently anti-Obama in the primaries – to such an extreme extent that he almost cost himself a huge chunk of his readers. Of course he ended up voting for Obama over McCain, but he was never a fan. You need to keep that in mind as you read his current critique – he criticizes Obama for not being who Krugman knew he wasn’t all along.

    How could you not know this? Krugman’s war on Obama (and yeah, it really amounted to that) was one of the big media stories of 2008.

    Krugman knew exactly what he was getting – he is being completely disingenuous by pretending that he thought Obama would be different.

    And you seem to be rather disingenuous also. You seem to be so thrilled at the fact that you can get to make this kind of an argument (how naive of Krugman…if only these Nobel Prize winners had as much sense as I do), that oyu ignore the fact that it is a completely phony argument.

    Real progressives are quite satisfied with Obama. I, for one, find him to be largely as I expected him to be. The polls seem to show the same thing – Democrats love him – for a reason. Republicans hate him, for a reason.

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  4. mantis says:

    What they’ve gotten instead is a President who, right off the bat, ceded control over the two central pieces of legislation of his first term to Congress.

    A president who lets Congress pass legislation? The gall!

    As the economy faltered, he told Americans that we were in a recovery that everyone knew didn’t exist.

    Really? Define “recovery.” I know what it means in economic terms. You must have a different definition.

    In December, when the Bush tax cuts were set to expire, he went behind the back of his own party and made a (politically smart) deal with the opposition.

    To make sure unemployment insurance wasn’t yanked out from under those Americans struggling the most, as the Republicans wanted to do.

    Then, most recently, he sat on the sidelines for weeks while Senate Democrats and House Republicans were unable to make a deal, then he acceded to Republican demands for spending cuts while holding the line on the relatively unimportant issue of Federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

    Relatively unimportant to whom?

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  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Reality bites.

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  6. Drew says:

    Another rube self-identifies.

    I do find it telling that he wrote “What have they done with President Obama?” Because surely Obama can’t be blamed for . . . himself. He must be absorbing evil Paul Ryan Mind Rays or something.

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  7. Paul says:

    Aw comeon Krugman…. You knew from day one Obama was what he was. His pals included known murderers, bigots, racist, etc… he was known to snif coke for over a year in college, he was NEVER known to be a decisive leader. He was from Chicago for pete’s sake!

    So what excuse do you really have? Obama now makes Jimmy Carter look good.

    You need to look in the mirror Krugman cause alot of your predictions are not panning out.

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  8. Steve Verdon says:

    As the economy faltered, he told Americans that we were in a recovery that everyone knew didn’t exist.

    Really? Define “recovery.” I know what it means in economic terms. You must have a different definition.

    Actually, I’d be curious about the timing of the statements. The recession ended June 2009, was Obama saying the recession was over before that?

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  9. Jon G says:

    Yeah Paul Krugman has always been very anti-Obama and his opinion of Obama is akin to Rush Limaugh’s opinion of John McCain…In the same party but definitely no love lost on a personal level.

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  10. dustydog says:

    Oooh ooh, I want to play, Mantis.
    A president who lets Congress pass legislation? The gall!
    Anyone who thinks “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can do a better job than me, let them have at it” should quit his government job.

    Really? Define “recovery.” I know what it means in economic terms. You must have a different definition.
    A good working definition of recovery is where the country would be now, if we had elected Sarah Palin as president in 2010. Another good working definition would be fewer unemployed Americans, and fewer Americans being told they’ve been unemployed for so long that we can’t count them as unemployed because they would make the numbers look bad.

    To make sure unemployment insurance wasn’t yanked out from under those Americans struggling the most, as the Republicans wanted to do.
    People on unemployment for 2 years struggle the most?! Even more than teachers, who reportedly have the hardest job on the planet and struggle each year to do more with less? Personally, I’d say that our marines and soldiers who have been wounded protecting us struggle at least as much as an average healthy guy who wants a job but can’t find one.

    But you are saying that President Obama, with a Democratic majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate in Dec 2010, was afraid of the Republicans, who didn’t have the votes to do anything? Those mean powerless Republicans were able to thwart him and scare him, and you think that is a plus for Obama?

    Planned Parenthood.

    Relatively unimportant to whom?
    Funding for planned parenthood is a really important issue for unborn babies in DC. It is relatively unimportant for everybody in DC who isn’t pregnant and didn’t just get some girl pregnant. So, maybe 95% of DC. And relatively unimportant for everybody living outside of DC.

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  11. elaine says:

    The same credentialed economists who claim we’re in a recovery also think encouraging inflation would be a swell way to write off a fair chunk of America’s debt. It may work for the Federal Government, but it will surely cripple the nation.

    But, hey… what do I know? I’m not a credentialed economist…

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  12. Steve Anthony says:

    I think Obama is doing the best he can…just like George W. did…
    …LOL!

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  13. Chuck Pelto says:

    TO: Doug Mataconis
    RE: Heh

    I suppose, is the problem with hooking your trailer onto a guy who was only in the United States Senate for a year and a half before he started running for President. — Doug Mataconis

    You forgot to mention the fact that Obama sat in the pews listening to the ‘good’ Reverend Wright calling down curses from God America for 20 years. And that his political science mentor is Bill ‘I Bombed the Pentagon’ Ayers, whose dream it is to liquidate 25 million Americans by sending them to our own form of gulag in the American southwest.

    Why is that?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [A leader in the Democratic Party is a boss, in the Republican Party he is a leader. -- Harry S. Truman]

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  14. hitnrun says:

    The thing to understand about Krugman’s take is that it’s predicated on Obama’s poll numbers. If he was tooling around golf courses and beach resorts for two years, making ambiguous statements, erecting strawmen, voting present, letting Harry and Nancy dictate policy, lobbing missiles on a whim…and his poll numbers were better than 55 or so, Krugman would think him a historic success.

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  15. zek202 says:

    What does Krugman mean by “Obama’s enemies”? Does he mean the Republicans or the Taliban or the tea party or who? It’s nice to know who your enemies are, would Obama’s enemies be Krugman’s as well?

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  16. Monica says:

    “The kids who are graduating into the 2011 job market are never going to have the lives they should have had,” says economist Paul Krugman in this video. A grim outlook for the next generation of America’s workforce. http://f4a.tv/hr8Ebq

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  17. Southern Hoosier says:

    Paul Krugman Wonders Where The President He Thought He Was Voting For Went To

    He went on vacation and never came back.

    As of January 2, Obama has been president for 712 days. According to figures compiled by CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, who serves as a sort of unofficial White House record-keeper, Obama has spent 339 of those days — nearly 48 percent — outside Washington.

    According to Knoller, Obama has spent 176 days on domestic trips, 70 days on foreign travel, 58 days on vacation, and 35 days at Camp David. (You can add a couple more vacation days to the total before the president returns from his break in Hawaii.)

    http://urbangrounds.com/2011/01/obama-away-dc/

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  18. alanstorm says:

    Tano, assuming your take on Krugman re: Obama is true (and I have no reason to doubt you), it does bring up an interesting question: what exactly is Krugman trying to prove with his rant? Has he simply convinced himself that Obama was his favorite all along, has his memory gone walkabout – or is he simply full of used food?

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  19. sdfg says:

    I think we need to re-evaluate who was driving the ObamaCare battles two years ago. Up until now, I would have given that as a great example of a president putting what he sees as principles over voters’ loud objections. Now I wonder. Would it have been more accurate to have called it Pelosi-care? Think of it that way, and suddenly things come into a different focus. The aggressiveness and vitriol of the healthcare debate sound much more like Pelosi or her comrade Rahm Emanuel than they do President Obama.

    President Obama seems like an embodiment of the Right’s critique of liberalism– to the point that you’d think he was a closet conservative eager to make a cautionary example for the public. As a candidate, his principal qualification was that he was running a brilliant campaign (in what was obviously a perfect storm for him– friendly media, financial crisis, a successful surge putting Iraq off the table, etc). He could afford to be something of a cipher– people were eager to see in him whatever they wanted, and with no record there was no evidence to the contrary. Once elected, though, he had to govern– hiding and letting people assume the best of him isn’t enough.

    What we see from Obama the President is a combination confused strategy and blundering execution. He’s not picking the right battles, and his “aloofness” is really hiding: from the possibility of controversy, failure, looking bad, disappointing people. This works in a legislator or activist, but the President can’t hide from his own initiatives. And, in turn, he’s got a “competence gap”, that suggests that he’s not engaged in managing his own government, either. His dithering, hair-splitting, confused foreign policy is only one example; he’s alienated our allies and rewarded our enemies, committed the US to largely symbolic rather than substantive goals, and doesn’t seem to have a vision of what the US national interest even is. And when career diplomats start blundering making rookie mistakes, it suggests that poor coordination and no oversight is to blame, rather than the staffers themselves.

    As a political leader, we keep comparing President Obama to Jimmy Carter– but what comes to mind now is another leader: Louis Napoleon (“Napoleon III”, as he styled himself). The man was reputed in his time to be a genius by the adoring elites– and only later, from his papers do we get the picture of a man overcome by indecision and confusion. He liked to see every facet of an issue, but could never produce a clear strategic vision out of all the minutae. Look him up– especially Kissinger’s description of him in the book Diplomacy. Karl Marx was reputedly talking about him when he said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” Napoleon III took France from being one of the pre-eminent countries of the world into a third tier power that had become the punching bag of Europe within just a few years– and I fear that President Obama looks to do the same.

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  20. PTL says:

    Of course Krugman will vote for Obama. He, like all the leftists will vote for any Democrat even if they ran a dog at the top of the ticket. Speaking of dogs………..

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  21. Larry says:

    Krugman says the more you spend money you don’t have, the healthier your economy will be. If he’d only apply the same logic here he’d be thrilled: The emptier the suit, the greater the President.

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  22. mantis says:

    A good working definition of recovery is where the country would be now, if we had elected Sarah Palin as president in 2010.

    Wow. Where to start?

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  23. Eric says:

    Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office, Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences.

    What ferocious opposition is he talking about?

    The Republicans? When Obama took office the Democrats had the White House, the House of Representatives and for a while a super majority in the Senate. You don’t get more powerful than that. The Republicans were completely powerless to oppose anything during that time. What is particularly ferocious about a party that had no power at all for two years?

    The Tea Party? Does he mean those pesky voters who got angry watching a political party overdose on power by spending the country into bankruptcy?

    Or maybe he means these people who ferociously opposed the President.

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  24. Otis B. Driftwood says:

    I believe Obama sincerely wants to be the kind of president he said he would be during the campaign. He just doesn’t know how. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to do much of anything.

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  25. tom p says:

    I guess the first question I’d ask Krugman here, is where the heck have you been the past two years?

    Jesus Doug, I have been dissappointed in Obama as well, but the first question I have to ask you is….

    “WHERE IN THE F HAVE YOU BEEN THE LAST TEN YEARS?!?!?!!!!?????”

    Really Doug, do you think the GOP is serious about the deficit? Really? Have you looked at Ryans budget? I mean, really looked at it?

    And I thought I was naive… and the truth is, I was,… but you…. are being a complete idiot.

    READ MY LIPS: The GOP does not give a rats ass about the deficit. Repeat after me Doug, “The GOP does not give a rats ass about the deficit. ”

    If they did, they would end the Bush tax cuts.

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  26. Steve Verdon says:

    Jesus Doug, I have been dissappointed in Obama as well, but the first question I have to ask you is….

    “WHERE IN THE F HAVE YOU BEEN THE LAST TEN YEARS?!?!?!!!!?????”

    Really Doug, do you think the GOP is serious about the deficit? Really? Have you looked at Ryans budget? I mean, really looked at it?

    So…let me see if I understand you.

    1. The GOP (Doug is quite libertarian I doubt he is a Republican) isn’t serious about the deficit so….its not okay that Doug is bracing to be disappointed by Obama’s upcoming speech on the deficit. In fact, he should not be disappointed? Is that right?

    2. The Ryan budget proposal: I don’t think Doug has said he loves it or even that he likes it. What he has said is that he thinks it is a serious proposal.

    And I thought I was naive… and the truth is, I was,… but you…. are being a complete idiot.

    READ MY LIPS: The GOP does not give a rats ass about the deficit. Repeat after me Doug, “The GOP does not give a rats ass about the deficit. ”

    If they did, they would end the Bush tax cuts.

    So, Doug may not agree with you or Obama so by default he has to agree with the Republicans? I think the stodgy old logic choppers would call this an either/or fallacy. You are forcing Doug into either the Democrat or Republican camps while ignoring the viability of 1 or more other positions outside those two choices.

    BTW why don’t you see what Doug wanted to do under the Simpson-Bowles NYTimes widget that allowed the user to pick different strategies for balancing the budget. I think most of us here wrote a post on that.

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  27. Southern Hoosier says:

    mantis says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 18:15

    A good working definition of recovery is where the country would be now, if we had elected Sarah Palin as president in 2010.

    Wow. Where to start?

    Talking about tossing someone a softball!

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  28. Wiley Stoner says:

    OK Mantis, let us start with the job Obama has done. He crippled the oil industry when one of the largest contributers to his campaign got exceptions concerning safety and had a well disaster. Oddly enough, there were people who knew there was a problem with the well in question but did nothing about it. Almost like they wanted it to happen but that would be conspiracy and we know Obama is not capable of doing anything that diabolical. Obama is spending this country into the poor house. He maintains wars to which there is no positive outcome. His stimulous did little except increase the debt. He allows agencies to implement policies he cannot get throught congress. He will not be reelected in 2012. I hope he faces presecution for what he has wrought. You, mantis are still and idiot.

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  29. mantis says:

    Up your dosages, Wiley.

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  30. Steve Verdon says:

    tom p,

    Doug’s post is here.

    One thing he favored was the same thing Candidate Obama favored: letting the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 expire.

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  31. Southern Hoosier says:

    tom p says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 18:33
    If they did, they would end the Bush tax cuts.

    What about the Kennedy tax cuts?

    “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

    – John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference

    “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues.”

    – John F. Kennedy, Sept. 18, 1963, radio and television address to the nation on tax-reduction bill

    Read more: John F. Kennedy on taxes http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=39517#ixzz1JG2rRxOg

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  32. Southern Hoosier says:

    47% of Americans pay no income tax. The top 10% of the nation income earner pay only 70% of the income taxes.

    Comrade Obama, the Great One, is correct, 70% is not enough. I believe it would not be too much to ask that only the top 10% be taxed and they pay the full cost of running the govermnet.

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  33. Michael says:

    Wow!! My hat off to you. Your post is the most vicious dismembering of one of the most disingenuous and cynical partisan media attack dogs around. Congrats.

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  34. wr says:

    Southern Hoosier — As I said before, Kennedy cut the top rate all the way down to 70%. I’m willing to go there. Are you?

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  35. Dave says:

    What about the Kennedy tax cuts?

    Would you want us to go back to the tax brackets under Kennedy?

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  36. ken in sc says:

    Obama is being influenced by demons. Farakhan said so.

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  37. tom p says:

    One thing he favored was the same thing Candidate Obama favored: letting the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 expire.

    Steve, thank you, I am not always able to keep up as life intrudes…. and I do not mean to imply that DM is nearly as partisan as his policy preferences imply.

    1. The GOP (Doug is quite libertarian I doubt he is a Republican) isn’t serious about the deficit so….its not okay that Doug is bracing to be disappointed by Obama’s upcoming speech on the deficit. In fact, he should not be disappointed? Is that right?

    Absolutely not Steve… In fact, I am quite ready to be dissappointed as well…. But how many times has Steve said he could never vote for a Dem? So he votes, what….?

    GOP??? He has admitted to doing that before.

    2. The Ryan budget proposal: I don’t think Doug has said he loves it or even that he likes it. What he has said is that he thinks it is a serious proposal.

    And as I have said before… anyone who thinks the Ryan budget is a serious proposal is an idiot….

    Tax Cuts for the Rich…. Medicare Cuts for the rest of us.

    I repeat, we live in the richest country in the world, if we can not take care of our aged, our disabled, our children,…

    there is something wrong with us.

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  38. Milla says:

    Perhaps Krugman’s biggest problem is that he does not see the GOP as fellow americans with a different opinion. he sees them a the “enemy.”

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  39. tom p says:

    Oh, and Steve? Ending the Bush tax cuts on the Rich is not enuf… ALL the Bush tax cuts have to end in order for any of us to get to the fences of the ball park…. at the least.

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  40. anjin-san says:

    The top 10% of the nation income earner pay only 70% of the income taxes.

    Something tells me ol’ Sh ain’t a member of this club…

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  41. Mark Nequaine says:

    You have got this wrong, and this is totally unfair to Krugman, who has regularly and repeatedly been critical of Obama, as you would know if you read his columns and blog regularly. You owe him an apology.. Even before he was elected. Krugman supported Hillary Clinton and expressed skepticism of Obama constantly. Now he can say “I told you so”. He definately saw it better than I did. I’m mad at myself for being fooled, but Krugman was never fooled.

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  42. Cannon Asesrb says:

    “If they did, they would end the Bush tax cuts.”

    And if the jackass party really cared about the deficit, we would have spending level of pre-Bush.

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  43. vinc says:

    This is totally off-base. Krugman has been Obama’s biggest liberal critic for a very, very long time–since early in the Democratic primary, even. This is what happens when you criticize people you don’t read.

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  44. dazz says:

    As others have said, Krugman was not in favor of Obama and wanted Hillary. Oops, that means your post was a mistake – happens to us all. Krugman has been in full attack mode towards the President’s men and Obama at times for years now.

    As for those that criticize Krugman, you have to acknowledge he may not be your cupa, but he is not as stupid as some say…he is just not in- trend. Sometimes he blows it, but you and I do too.

    The real guys to criticize have little regard for their own society. Go after them – the politicos.

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  45. Steve Verdon says:

    Tax Cuts for the Rich…. Medicare Cuts for the rest of us.

    Everyone keeps saying this, is there an independent analysis (e.g. the CBO) that can give us a clear picture?

    I repeat, we live in the richest country in the world, if we can not take care of our aged, our disabled, our children,…

    there is something wrong with us.

    Just because we are rich doesn’t mean various categories should get free rides. Helping out those who need help is one thing. But agreeing to cover almost all of the medical costs of just the elderly creates a pretty bad set of incentives that will ensure that at some point you wont be able to even offer token help. We are on that path now.

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  46. [...] Outside the Beltway:  Paul Krugman Wonders Where The President He Thought He Was Voting For Went To [...]

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