Paul Krugman condemns "compassionless conservatism": Politicians don't know how Americans actually live

"American families could easily have much more security than they have"

Published May 29, 2015 12:35PM (EDT)

                      (Reuters/Tim Shaffer)
(Reuters/Tim Shaffer)

In his Friday New York Times column, economist Paul Krugman wrote about the findings of a Federal Reserve study on the financial well-being of U.S. households, which depicted a dire state of affairs for many Americans.

For instance, three in 10 "nonelderly" American citizens reported that they have no retirement savings or pension, and often had to forego medical treatments because they couldn't afford it. Almost 25 percent of respondents reported having experienced financial hardship in 2014, while 47 percent said an surprise expense of $400 would require borrowing money or selling their possessions.

Krugman argued that our nation's politicians are still oblivious to the average American's plight:

I am not, or not only, talking about right-wing contempt for the poor, although the dominance of compassionless conservatism is a sight to behold. According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of conservatives believe that the poor “have it easy” thanks to government benefits; only 1 in 7 believe that the poor “have hard lives.” And this attitude translates into policy. What we learn from the refusal of Republican-controlled states to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government would foot the bill, is that punishing the poor has become a goal in itself, one worth pursuing even if it hurts rather than helps state budgets.

He continued to note that things could be worse. Social Security still exists, as do food stamps, unemployment insurance and Obamacare.

Still -- "American families could easily have much more security than they have," he concluded. "All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut 'entitlements' and start looking the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live."

By Joanna Rothkopf

MORE FROM Joanna Rothkopf

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Conservatism Entitlements Government Benefits New York Times Paul Krugman Poor Poverty Social Security