Krugman: Conservatism is now "a sort of cult"

The New York Times columnist assails proud ignorance on the right

Published September 9, 2013 1:10PM (EDT)

Paul Krugman                                                                                                                                                                       (Reuters/Anton Golubev)
Paul Krugman (Reuters/Anton Golubev)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went on the attack this morning. Riffing off a speech by Wyoming junior Senator John Barrasso which called Obamacare "unaffordable," the Nobel Prize winning economist points out that the law seems to be lowering health costs and points out that insurance premiums will be lower than the Congressional Budget Office had originally predicted.  "But Mr. Barrasso’s remarks were actually interesting, although not in the way he intended," Krugman writes:


My guess, in other words, was that Mr. Barrasso was inadvertently illustrating the widening “wonk gap” — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory....

But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.

It’s all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power — the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it’s disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they’re doing.

By Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Aca Healthcare Krugman Media New York Times Obamacare Paul Krugman U.s. Economy