The Corner

Politics & Policy

Correcting Krugman

Paul Krugman has written a column that is in many ways similar to my last column. Nothing untoward in that. It’s a pretty good column.

Professor Krugman writes that President Trump justifies his zany policy ideas with facts and figures that are not true or even close to true. E.g., the president claims we have a massive trade deficit with Canada, when in fact we run a small trade surplus with Canada.

Professor Krugman writes: “Meanwhile, in the days since Trump’s announcement” — of his tariff plans — “he’s tweeted out one falsehood after another. And I don’t mean that he’s been saying things I disagree with; I mean that he’s been saying things that are simply, flatly wrong, even according to the U.S. government itself.”

That’s a problem, Professor Krugman argues, for the obvious reason that basing government decisions on falsehoods is bound to lead to bad results: “Listening to a garrulous old guy spout nonsense is annoying in the best of circumstances. But when this particular old guy controls the world’s largest military, nukes included, it’s downright scary.”

I wouldn’t call Professor Krugman a garrulous old guy who spouts nonsense — he is only 65 years old — but, for the record, with 1,347,300 active-duty troops, the United States does not have the world’s largest military. It is No. 3. I point that out only because Professor Krugman as a columnist cannot lean very hard on wit or charm and must therefore attend carefully to the details.

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