Paul Krugman has a timely column in the New York Times that looks at Mitt Romney's apparent hope that voters are not only stupid - probably a good bet with the GOP base - and that they have amnesia to the fact that the country's current economic problems track directly back to the failed GOP policies that Romney wants to bring back on steroids. Budget cuts and huge tax cuts for the wealthy are not going to turn things around but rather will make things only worse for all but the 1%. One need only look to faltering economic growth in European countries that jumped onto the austerity bandwagon. But facing objective reality and the GOP agenda seem to have become increasingly mutually exclusive. Here are some column highlights:
Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times.
But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right — but not in the way he intended.First of all, many reporters quickly noted a point that Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?Yes, it does. Mr. Romney constantly talks about job losses under Mr. Obama. Yet all of the net job loss took place in the first few months of 2009, that is, before any of the new administration’s policies had time to take effect. So the Ohio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don’t remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall.
I guess accusing Mr. Obama of not doing enough to promote recovery is a better argument than blaming him for the effects of Bush policies. However, it’s not much better, since Mr. Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies. And he’s hoping that you don’t remember how badly those policies worked. For the Bush era didn’t just end in catastrophe; it started off badly, too. Yes, Mr. Obama’s jobs record has been disappointing — but it has been unambiguously better than Mr. Bush’s over the comparable period of his administration.Overall employment in the Obama years has been held back by mass layoffs of schoolteachers and other state and local government employees. . . . Oh, and where have those mass layoffs of schoolteachers been taking place? Largely in states controlled by the G.O.P.: 70 percent of public job losses have been either in Texas or in states where Republicans recently took control.So am I saying that Mr. Obama did everything he could, and that everything would have been fine if he hadn’t faced political opposition? By no means. Even given the political constraints, the administration did less than it could and should have in 2009, especially on housing. Furthermore, Mr. Obama was an active participant in Washington’s destructive “pivot” away from jobs to a focus on deficit reduction.[T]here is a valid critique one can make of the administration’s handling of the economy. But that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people — and perhaps more to the point, the news media — forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out.