Republicans Have No Ideology

Paul KrugmanThis morning, Paul Krugman notes that Mitt Romney has come out against QE3, with Romney saying that the economy “doesn’t need more artificial and ineffective measures.” He goes on to say that we shouldn’t be “printing dollars.” It is ridiculous, of course. This is the same kind of nonsense that we always hear from conservatives—things like, “At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, [I’m’] going to make sure that the government continues to tighten its own.” Oh, wait: that was Obama. But I’ve never said anything but that Obama is conservative and the point is the same. These reasonable sounding platitudes are just wrong.

Krugman seems to think that Romney is blinded by ideology. He writes:

So where are Romney and his party coming from? Basically, they’ve thrown out 80 years of economic analysis and evidence because it doesn’t fit their ideological preconceptions, and they’re resorting to dubious metaphors—”sugar high” and all that—as a substitute for clear thinking.

I think he’s wrong. Romney isn’t against the Fed helping the economy for ideological reasons; he’s against it because a Democrat is in the White House.

It is a major mistake to think that conservative elites have what we would normally consider an ideology. Their entire organization is dedicated to getting and keeping power. I know that I have sometimes claimed that they are ideologically committed to tax breaks for the rich. But I think I’ve been wrong. They are committed to tax breaks for themselves and their friends. This is just selfishness; it doesn’t rise to the level of an ideology.

We’ve seen this on display in Romney’s response to the attack on our Libyan embassy. The logic is very simple: we’re against it if they are for it. That ain’t no ideology. And I’m surprised that Krugman doesn’t see that.

Afterword

Krugman along with most of the rest of the economics profession is always very careful to show respect for Greg Mankiw and other prominent economists on the Romney team. This is pure in-group politics. The truth is that whatever Mankiw once was, he is simply an apologist now. His response to the Tax Policy Center study (along with two other “respectable” economists and one wingnut) shows this. It isn’t wrong so much as evasive and highly misleading. The same, I fear, can be said for fellow Harvard economist Martin Feldstein. When his analysis of the TPC study found that it was correct, Feldstein simply wrote a deceptive WSJ OpEd where he made it sound like his analysis contradicted the TPC. This is not the kind of intellectual honesty that we should accept from Harvard professors.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Republicans Have No Ideology

  1. I think you’re right about Romney, etc. lacking an ideology. But to defend Krugman, to make a logical argument against a position, you have to logically tear down the supposed reasoning behind that position.

  2. @MadKane – I agree. Krugman is the first thing I read every morning. He tries to be reasonable with these [insert pejorative]. This morning’s column was funny. He was defending Bernanke against conservative attacks and applauding him for being open to the ideas of reasonable economists. He pointedly never mentioned that HE was the leader of those reasonable economists.

    Krugman is really good. I’m planning to write a comparison of DeLong, Thoma, and Krugman as bloggers. Krugman just has the knack. DeLong is the most interesting–when I can understand what the hell he’s talking about. And Thoma is just a gem. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much time to write because he spends 23 hours a day reading.

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