Why Obama should not pick Krugman for the Fed

The progressive Nobel Prize winner would set off some awesome fireworks, but never get confirmed

Topics: Ben Bernanke, How the World Works, Paul Krugman,

Why Obama should not pick Krugman for the FedNobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman (Imaginechina via AP Images)

Simon Johnson’s nomination of Paul Krugman as Federal Reserve chairman is a great idea, if only because the cantankerous Nobel Prize winner’s first appearance before a confirmation hearing would make riveting television. I would like nothing better than to watch Krugman face down the partisan questioning of Alabama’s Richard Shelby or Arizona’s Jon Kyl with the imperious rage we know so well from his columns and blog posts.

Krugman doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and there are a lot of fools on the Senate Banking and Finance Committee. It would be a match made in heaven. No more cautious equivocation, a la Geithner or Bernanke. No more quisling accommodation to Wall Street. Paul Krugman would take seriously the Fed’s responsibility to address unemployment, and would do everything in his power to push progressive goals.

Of course, that’s supposing he ever got past his confirmation hearing, which is a prospect that even he calls “crazy.” For a decade, Paul Krugman has been a unrepentant partisan warrior. He’s said many many very hurtful things about Republicans over the years. Nominating him would guarantee a Republican filibuster that might even garner a few Democratic votes — because Krugman is considerably to left of a significant number of Democratic senators.

You Might Also Like

Simon Johnson is a smart guy, but he’s dreaming if he thinks that Krugman would ever be confirmed in today’s political climate. So is there a case for doing it anyway, just for the filibuster fireworks? Is this where Obama should draw the line?

Johnson writes:

Would Krugman be opposed by the Republicans? Yes, potentially. And there could be quite a fight in the Senate — entirely of the Republicans making. But if they oppose his appointment — despite his qualifications and in the face of our weak economy — what signal would that send about their priorities?

Potentially? That’s disingenuous. We know exactly what Republican priorities are: To prevent Obama from accomplishing anything. Appointing Krugman would play right into GOP hands — kicking off a political fight that Obama would have no chance of winning. Even if progressives were inspired in the short term by an all-out political battle, in the end, nothing concrete would be accomplished, other than making the president look ineffective and weak.

Far better to keep Krugman where he is, but start actually fighting for financial reform legislation in a such a way as to gain his full-throated approval. That would be inspiring.

Andrew Leonard
Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>