In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman writes:
The aftermath of major financial crises is almost always terrible: severe crises are typically followed by multiple years of very high unemployment. And when Mr. Obama took office, America had just suffered its worst financial crisis since the 1930s. What the nation needed, given this grim prospect, was a really ambitious recovery plan.
Could Mr. Obama actually have offered such a plan? He might not have been able to get a big plan through Congress, or at least not without using extraordinary political tactics. Still, he could have chosen to be bold — to make Plan A the passage of a truly adequate economic plan, with Plan B being to place blame for the economy’s troubles on Republicans if they succeeded in blocking such a plan.
In other words, Krugman is telling Obama that he should have done what he, Krugman, does everyday in the pages of the Times. He should have proposed a $2 to $4 trillion stimulus plan knowing that no one in their right mind would agree to saddle the country with that much debt, so then he could have blamed the people who refused to adopt the crazy plan, i.e., the Republicans. The real benefit of this strategy is that afterward you can just relax and repeat, day in and day out, that if only we had spent more money we wouldn’t be where we are not.
Thanks to Caroline Baum for the pointer.