Paul Krugman is a typical, and often correct, critic of President Barack Obama. He’s been right on policy decisions on a number of occasions, and most notably, when President Obama has been wrong.
In a new story in Rolling Stone, Krugman has done an about face on Obama and the president’s historical significance.
“When it comes to Barack Obama,” Krugman writes, “I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.”
“And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.”
All of this is true, and everything Krugman writes in the Rolling Stone appears on surface to be true, but Krugman misses a major point.
Under President Obama, income and wealth equality has skyrocketed. 95 percent of all income growth in the USA over the last four years has gone into the pockets of the 1 percent. Record levels of income and wealth are now in the hands of the 1 percent, which accounts for much lower demand for goods and services, lower job and wage growth, and slower economic growth, all of which hurts the 99 percent, and all of which serves the 1 percent.
The policies the president has championed have played a major role in this.
Free trade treaties, for example, are negotiated with an eye toward shipping US jobs overseas with the difference between the old higher wages and the new lower wages going into the already fat wallets of the super rich via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices and soaring dividends. Right now, as we speak, the president is championing the Trans Pacific Partnership, the largest income redistribution scam of all time. It is a so-called free trade treaty that has been negotiated to jack up prices on goods and services, and lower wages, all of which redistributes income from the 99 to the 1 percent.
Under Obama, student loan interest doubled, and the payments of millions of student loans goes straight into the pockets of those who possess bonds backed by student loans: hedge funds and the rich. With a little work, the president might have stopped this madness.
Obama is not stupid, he knows precisely what he is doing. He’s redistributing income on behalf of his largest campaign contributors, the largest investment banks on Wall Street, hedge funds, and the largest investors of the 1 percent. This is precisely why the president refused to unleash his attorney general against the crimes of Wall Street that brought about the tanking of the world economy five years ago.
And these are just a few of the things Obama has done to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, something Krugman doesn’t want you to know about.
So while Krugman makes his points in his article, and with passion, his defense of Obama is in very narrow terms.
By the way, despite my critic of Obama, he hardly rates among the worst of presidents. That distinction goes to George W. Bush, the man who created the worst mess in US history. Warren Harding, as well as several others, would have to rate below our current president, as well.
Read Full Post »