There was a truly incredible column  today from the NY Times resident liberal economist Paul Krugman explaining how people in the US need not worry about becoming like Greece. “We’re not Greece”, he says, which turns out to be the most accurate statement in his entire column.
He then goes on to blame our current financial problems on everything except the bloated spending that put us in the situation we’re currently in.
Of course he gives no thoughtful discussion at all of whether we may actually be spending too much money…rather focusing on our not paying enough taxes. And then blames that on conservatives.
...bear in mind, also, that taxes have lagged behind spending partly thanks to a deliberate political strategy, that of “starve the beast”: conservatives have deliberately deprived the government of revenue in an attempt to force the spending cuts they now insist are necessary. ...
So, it’s all conservatives’ fault, huh? Or rather the fault of American voters who feel they already pay too much in taxes?
He also goes on to suggest that other primary reason for impending doom is because health care costs too much.
...health care costs will rise in the future as they have in the past. This tells us that the key to our fiscal future is improving the efficiency of our health care system — which is, you may recall, something the Obama administration has been trying to do...
But Krugman fails to account for the fact that Obama and the Congressional Democrats just fixed that problem, so that should no longer be a contributing factor, right? Remember, Obama’s solution was to “bend the cost curve down” on health care.
But, alas, as we just learned last week, the Congressional Budget Office, which only a few months ago gave the Democrats the fiscal fig-leaf they wanted by saying that it wouldn’t add to the deficit, has now admitted what everyone with common sense knew all along...that it would. In this case by another 150 billion or so. But what’s that between friends?
Finally, he closes with what is probably one of the funniest things I've ever read in a Krugman column, which is saying something. He says:
So here’s the reality: America’s fiscal outlook over the next few years isn’t bad. We do have a serious long-run budget problem, which will have to be resolved with a combination of health care reform and other measures, probably including a moderate rise in taxes. But we should ignore those who pretend to be concerned with fiscal responsibility, but whose real goal is to dismantle the welfare state — and are trying to use crises elsewhere to frighten us into giving them what they want.
In other words, we need European style health care and European levels of taxation to keep us from going down a European style path to bankruptcy? Brilliant! And the country should beware of all of those tricky conservatives who would try and use the fact that we're going broke as a reason to cut spending.
I guess Krugman's worried that conservatives are adopting the Rham Emanuel doctrine of “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”?
Yes Paul, we’re not Greece. But when it comes to the growth of so-called social democracy, and the bloated government spending that comes with it, Greece (and most of Europe) have been years ahead of the United States. And that means that we’ve had the benefit of observing their constantly stagnant economies, and their increasing financial problems and we’ve kept going.
And that means that we should know better.