In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman takes on the idea of "libertarian populism" -- the political philosophy he says Republicans have alighted on after the "wonk" theorizing of Rep. Paul Ryan "turned out to be crude smoke and mirrors." Libertarian populism, per Krugman, is the set of policy proposals, embodied by the likes of Sen. Rand Paul, that Republicans are hoping will turn out blue-collar white voters. The only problem? The policies don't actually help the working class -- and Krugman calls them "bunk":
Well, as far as anyone can tell, at this point libertarian populism — as illustrated, for example, by the policy pronouncements of Senator Rand Paul — consists of advocating the same old policies, while insisting that they’re really good for the working class. Actually, they aren’t. But, in any case, it’s hard to imagine that proclaiming, yet again, the virtues of sound money and low marginal tax rates will change anyone’s mind.
Moreover, if you look at what the modern Republican Party actually stands for in practice, it’s clearly inimical to the interests of those downscale whites the party can supposedly win back. Neither a flat tax nor a return to the gold standard are actually on the table; but cuts in unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid are. (To the extent that there was any substance to the Ryan plan, it mainly involved savage cuts in aid to the poor.) And while many nonwhite Americans depend on these safety-net programs, so do many less-well-off whites — the very voters libertarian populism is supposed to reach.