Paul Krugman: Finally, Obama's talking like a progressive!

Conventional wisdom is that the Obama presidency is all but over. The economist and liberal pundit disagrees

By Alex Halperin

Published December 6, 2013 1:52PM (EST)

Paul Krugman                                                                                                                                                                   (AP/Lai Seng Sin)
Paul Krugman (AP/Lai Seng Sin)

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is in full on cheerleader mode in his column this morning, applauding President Obama for talking about the economy like a progressive:

First, about those truths: Mr. Obama laid out a disturbing — and, unfortunately, all too accurate — vision of an America losing touch with its own ideals, an erstwhile land of opportunity becoming a class-ridden society. Not only do we have an ever-growing gap between a wealthy minority and the rest of the nation; we also, he declared, have declining mobility, as it becomes harder and harder for the poor and even the middle class to move up the economic ladder. And he linked rising inequality with falling mobility, asserting that Horatio Alger stories are becoming rare precisely because the rich and the rest are now so far apart.

He seems especially pleased that the president is finally distancing himself from the chattering class consensus:

And there was this: “When it comes to our budget, we should not be stuck in a stale debate from two years ago or three years ago.  A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.” Finally! Our political class has spent years obsessed with a fake problem — worrying about debt and deficits that never posed any threat to the nation’s future — while showing no interest in unemployment and stagnating wages. Mr. Obama, I’m sorry to say, bought into that diversion. Now, however, he’s moving on.

And since Obama no longer needs to seek reelection, Krugman points out, he's more free to disagree with the types of folks who make major campaign contributions:

The wrong turn we’ve taken in economic policy — our obsession with debt and “entitlements,” when we should have been focused on jobs and opportunity — was, of course, driven in part by the power of wealthy vested interests. But it wasn’t just raw power. The fiscal scolds also benefited from a sort of ideological monopoly: for several years you just weren’t considered serious in Washington unless you worshipped at the altar of Simpson and Bowles.

 


Alex Halperin

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

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Affordable Care Act Krugman New York Times Obamacare Paul Krugman President Obama U.s. Economy