Krugman: Republicans Are Holding America Hostage

When an admittedly liberal Nobel laureate in economics thinks trying to balance the budget is holding America hostage, one has to wonder if there are any adults remaining on the left side of the aisle.

Consider what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote Monday:

Six months ago President Obama faced a hostage situation. Republicans threatened to block an extension of middle-class tax cuts unless Mr. Obama gave in and extended tax cuts for the rich too. And the president essentially folded, giving the G.O.P. everything it wanted.

When an opinion piece begins with dishonesty, it's all downhill from there. The position Obama found himself in last December was all of his own doing.

He and the Democrat Party that controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress had all year to propose and pass a budget. Instead, because it was an election year and they knew what they would offer the American people would not be well-received, they punted and waited literally until the last minute.

Having been severely rebuked at the polls by a nation fed up with their profligate spending, Obama and the Democrats found themselves with little bargaining power as the clock approached midnight, and ended up accepting a far worse outcome than if they had performed their Constitutional duties in a more timely fashion.

It is therefore dishonest of Krugman to call that a hostage situation for the Party he unashamedly supports put itself in that position by abdicating their responsibility as elected officials.

With a groundwork of lies laid in the opening sentence, Krugman continued deceiving his readers:

Now, predictably, the hostage-takers are back: blackmail worked well last December, so why not try it again? This time House Republicans say they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling -- a step that could inflict major economic damage -- unless Mr. Obama agrees to large spending cuts, even as they rule out any tax increase whatsoever. And the question becomes what, if anything, will get the president to say no.

Once again, the fact that we're at this point is Obama and the Democrats' own doing. This debt ceiling issue could have been addressed months ago.

However, the current White House resident loves working in crisis mode. Just ask his former Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel who famously said you should never let a good crisis go to waste.

Virtually everything proposed by this President wreaks of urgency and hostage taking.

If we don't immediately pass a stimulus package, we're going into a depression.

If we don't immediately bail out General Motors and Chrysler, we're going into a depression.

If we don't immediately pass ObamaCare, we're going into a depression.

This has been the modus operandi of this administration since before Obama was sworn in.

Now these crisis-loving folks are trying to convince the American people that the world will come to an end if we don't immediately raise the debt ceiling, this despite the existence of numerous budgetary mechanisms that would keep much of the government running for several months if a solution isn't quickly arrived at.

Not surprisingly, Krugman is willing to play his part in scaring the citizenry:

Consumer spending would probably crash, as nervous seniors started wondering how to pay for rent and food. Businesses that depend on government purchases would slash payrolls and cancel investments.

Furthermore, markets might well panic, especially if interest payments are missed. And the consequences of undermining faith in U.S. debt might be especially severe because that debt plays a crucial role in many financial transactions.

Well, despite Monday being the deadline, stocks are currently trading near their post-recession highs and there hasn't been any mass-liquidation of U.S. treasury paper in the weeks leading up to today.

I guess the end of the world has once again been delayed.

But Krugman wasn't done:

So hitting the debt ceiling would be a very bad thing. Unfortunately, it may be unavoidable.

Why? Because this is a hostage situation. If the president and his allies operate on the principle that failure to raise the debt ceiling is an unthinkable outcome, to be avoided at all cost, then they have ceded all power to those willing to bring that outcome about. In effect, they will have ripped up the Constitution and given control over America's government to a party that only controls one house of Congress, but claims to be willing to bring down the economy unless it gets what it wants. [...]

But the president can't call the extortionists' bluff unless he's willing to confront them, and accept the associated risks.

You got that?

It's the end of the world as we know it if we don't raise the debt ceiling, but the President has to be willing to risk this - wait for it! - for the good of the nation.

Keep in mind that all the Republicans are asking for - with the budget having ballooned by 41 percent in the past four years and Social Security and Medicare closer to bankruptcy than previously thought! - is some spending cuts to slow the rate of debt growth in the future.

Is trying to balance the budget akin to sticking a gun to someone's head? Isn't it really the President and his Party that are holding America hostage by refusing to address the debt issue?

This White House resident even ignored all the recommendations of his own bipartisan deficit commission.

So who's holding whom hostage, and exactly why is it okay for the President to take the country into what Krugman thinks is the abyss, but it would be immoral for the Republicans to do it?

As I've been saying for years, it takes a lot of rationalizations to be a liberal these days.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.