The Corner

Politics & Policy

If a Tree Falls and Paul Krugman Does Not Hear . . .

Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes that he has not “heard any Republican complaints about Trump’s huge bailouts for farmers, whose distress is largely the result of his own policies.”

Perhaps it is the case that Professor Krugman has not heard such complaints.

Is he listening?

From Politico, “The president’s $12 billion farm bailout gets an ugly reception among many Republicans in Congress”:

“This is becoming more and more like a Soviet type of economy here: Commissars deciding who’s going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they’re going to sprinkle around benefits,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “I’m very exasperated. This is serious.”

“Taxpayers are going to be asked to initial checks to farmers in lieu of having a trade policy that actually opens and expands more markets. There isn’t anything about this that anybody should like,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. He suggested the new spending might need to be offset by cuts in other funding areas.

. . . Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Trump is giving farmers “golden crutches,” while Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said “this bailout compounds bad policy with more bad policy.” Toomey and GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee said their legislation to tie the president’s hands on tariffs should pick up new steam now that the Trump administration is distorting the market.

. . . Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) was unenthused with the bailout because he worries such payments could become permanent, but he said farmers who supported Trump are likely to welcome the aid given the dire straits in the heartland.

I timed myself: Finding those complaints took just under a minute. But it is hard to find such things if you are not looking for them.

What’s worse is that Professor Krugman goes on to criticize the reporting done on deficit politics, even though he does not seem to be very familiar with that reporting.

The New York Times opinion pages continue to exhibit shockingly low intellectual standards, especially in comparison to the often excellent (and often irreplaceable) work done in the rest of the newspaper. An opinion column need not go through something like the peer-review process that one of Professor Krugman’s academic papers would have seen, but putting the word “opinion” at the top of the page does not license a self-respecting writer to ignore questions of fact.