In his Friday column in the New York Times, Paul Krugman used the occasion of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's recent policy speech -- in which he suggested raising the age for Social Security and Medicare eligibility to 69 -- to discuss why Republicans trying to appeal to their base just can't quit certain economic ideas that are long past their prime.
So long, in fact, Krugman follows John Quiggin in dubbing them "zombies," by which he means ideas that have an "unblemished record of failures" but are still taken seriously policy makers like Christie.
Republican candidates are forced to wrestle with these ideas publicly not because they're sound fiscal policy, but because the GOP's base is so devoted to them that "no amount of evidence or logic can kill [them]." Christie's proposal, Krugman argues, is both another in a long line of undead ideas, and something the electorate needs to prepare itself for dealing with on a daily basis as 2016 approaches.
So why has the Republican Party experienced a zombie apocalypse? [Christie's] supposedly tough-minded policy idea was a classic zombie — an idea that should have died long ago in the face of evidence that undermines its basic premise, but somehow just keeps shambling along.
But let us not be too harsh on Mr. Christie. A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates.
Start with Mr. Christie, who thought he was being smart and brave by proposing that we raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to 69. Doesn’t this make sense now that Americans are living longer?
No, it doesn’t.