"Be very, very afraid": Paul Krugman on the GOP's scary economic "experts"

In today's Republican Party, there's no penalty for being consistently wrong

Published February 20, 2015 1:45PM (EST)

Paul Krugman                                                                                                                                                                     (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Paul Krugman (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

The modern Republican Party is beholden to "economic charlatans and cranks" who reject the very notion of an "objective reality," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman charges in his New York Times column today.

The latest evidence came Wednesday, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker -- one of the GOP's leading 2016 contenders -- attended a New York dinner hosted by supply-side grandees Art Laffer, creator of the notorious Laffer Curve; CNBC host Larry Kudlow; and Heritage Foundation chief economist Stephen Moore. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's gearing up for a second White House bid, kissed the supply-siders' rings last month.

That these men have become political powerbrokers attests to the sorry intellectual state of the GOP, Krugman contends. They don't just cling to the fantastical -- and empirically disproven -- idea that tax cuts will bring deficits down. They've also made embarrassingly inaccurate forecasts about the Obama-era economy, predictions that have done nothing to damage their standing within the Republican Party.

"'Get ready for inflation and higher interest rates' was the title of a June 2009 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal by Mr. Laffer," Krugman notes, while "what followed were the lowest inflation in two generations and the lowest interest rates in history. Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Moore both predicted 1970s-style stagflation." Kudlow and Laffer, Krugman points out, have at least admitted that their predictions were wrong.

What's the takeaway? "Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening," Krugman observes. "What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins." That doesn't just hold true for economic policy, he writes; it also helps explain conservatives' hysterical claims about health care reform, as well as the persistent influence of foreign policy "experts" who assured us that the Iraq War would be a smashing success.

Returning to the GOP's economic quacks, Krugman concludes, "Clearly, failure has only made them stronger, and now they are political kingmakers. Be very, very afraid."

By Luke Brinker

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