We must guard against "deficit hysteria." In "Fiscal Scare Tactics," his recent column, Krugman writes: "These days it's hard to pick up a newspaper or turn on a news program without encountering stern warnings about the federal budget deficit. The deficit threatens economic recovery, we're told; it puts American economic stability at risk; it will undermine our influence in the world. These claims generally aren't stated as opinions, as views held by some analysts but disputed by others. Instead, they're reported as if they were facts, plain and simple."
He continues, "And fear-mongering on the deficit may end up doing as much harm as the fear-mongering on weapons of mass destruction." Krugman believes Bush lied us into the Iraq War. Just as people unreasonably feared Saddam Hussein, they now have an unwarranted fear of today's deficit.
Questions: Didn't Krugman, less than six years ago, call the deficit "enormous"? Wouldn't he, therefore, consider a $1.5 trillion deficit at 10 percent of GDP mega-normous? Didn't he describe the economy with 5.5 percent unemployment as "weak"? Isn't the current economy, at 9.7 percent unemployment, even weaker? If the 2004 deficit was "comparable to the worst we've ever seen in this country," wouldn't today's much bigger deficit cause even more heartburn?
Nope. Now a huge deficit is actually a good thing: "The point is that running big deficits in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s is actually the right thing to do. If anything, deficits should be bigger than they are because the government should be doing more than it is to create jobs." The deficit "should be bigger"?!
Long term, Krugman says, we've got concerns about revenue and spending. But as for now? "There's no reason to panic about budget prospects for the next few years, or even for the next decade." In 2004, Krugman warned that without a "clear path towards fiscal sanity" before "the next decade," we faced a "crunch." Presumably, we now have this "clear path."
Let's review. In 2004, an unhappy Krugman criticized Bush's "weak" economy and "miserable" job creation. Running an "enormous" deficit was a bad thing. Times were awful -- "by a large margin" the worst job crash and performance since Herbert Hoover. Today the deficit is four times as large in an even weaker economy with much higher unemployment. Times are awful. Now, though, the deficit is a good thing and should be even bigger.
Krugman's flip-flop on the deficit demonstrates a modern economic equation. Hatred of Bush + love for Obama = intellectual dishonesty.