In his column Friday, The New York Times' Paul Krugman lit into Republicans for calling for fewer regulations on big business in light some very prominent recent examples of how poorly corporations regulate themselves if left to their own devices.
"It has been a good few days of connoisseurs of business predators," he argued, acknowledging that even making that argument will lead to accusations that he's "demonizing business." "I’m not claiming that all businesspeople are demons, just that some of them aren’t angels," Krugman wrote.
Still, he said, there are people in the business world who "will do whatever it takes, including fraud that kills people, in order to make a buck," and the only way to stop these people is to have a strong system of federal regulations.
Which is, of course, precisely what the GOP candidates for president want to do away with. Krugman takes particular aim at former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, about whom he writes:
Mr. Bush isn’t wrong to suggest that there has been a move back toward more regulation under Mr. Obama, a move that will probably continue if a Democrat wins next year. After all, Hillary Clinton released a plan to limit drug prices at the same time Mr. Bush was unleashing his anti-regulation diatribe.
But the regulatory rebound is taking place for a reason. Maybe we had too much regulation in the 1970s, but we’ve now spent 35 years trusting business to do the right thing with minimal oversight — and it hasn’t worked.
So what has been happening lately is an attempt to redress that imbalance, to replace knee-jerk opposition to regulation with the judicious use of regulation where there is good reason to believe that businesses might act in destructive ways. Will we see this effort continue?