Krugman Blames Bush for Harsh Treatment from Critics

     When coming under fire for promoting a left-of-center ideology just point the finger at President George W. Bush.


     Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman made the media rounds Oct. 14 after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics on Oct. 13. In one appearance, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Krugman was asked why he was so reviled by his critics. His answer? President Bush.


     “I was out there – you know we went through a period when a lot of people were worshipping George Bush – if you can say that,” Krugman said. “He had an 80 percent approval rating, people were saying he is wonderful, anyone who criticizes him is unpatriotic and I was saying, ‘No, he’s actually a pretty bad guy. He’s got bad policies and he’s not being honest with us.’”


     Krugman claimed he was just victim of bad timing – being ahead of the curve.


     “And even though at this point you know, most Americans agree with me, I will never be forgiven for having been right too soon,” Krugman said.


     However, there are myriad reasons not to agree with Krugman and many of them have little to do with his criticism of George W. Bush, as Business & Media Institute adviser and CNBC regular Don Luskin pointed out in an Oct. 14 column he wrote for National Review Online.


     “These days Krugman’s liberal agenda always takes precedence over economic principle,” Luskin wrote. “He has described himself as ‘an unabashed defender of the welfare state.’ He has declared, ‘For me, Sweden of 1980 would be ideal.’ He has called Barack Obama’s sweeping plan for socialized medicine ‘naïve’ because it doesn’t contain enough mandates. He has said that ‘We should be getting 28% of GDP in [tax] revenue,’ when the highest level ever collected, even in wartime, is less than 21 percent.”


     Luskin also pointed out how the Krugman of the pre-Bush administration varied from the today’s Krugman. “In 1999 Paul Krugman was paid $50,000 by Enron as a consultant on its ‘advisory board,’ and that same year he wrote a glowing article about Enron for Fortune magazine,” Krugman wrote. He later went on to blast Enron for its indiscretions and blamed Bush for the whole thing.


     Still, Krugman chalked outside criticism up to “highly politicized times,” when asked about critic Daniel Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University who called much of Krugman’s popular work “disgraceful.” 


     “Look, we live in highly politicized times. I write a column in the New York Times. I’m not going to write that column the way I’m going to write an academic paper,” Krugman said. “I’m a pussy cat in real life, but give me 800 words and I start slashing.”


     Krugman used the taxpayer-funded bailout of financial institutions to advance his theory that free markets are flawed and make the case to revisit the New Deal-era policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


     “It repudiates the hard-line ‘free markets are always right’ principle,” Krugman said. “It doesn’t say – this is not a case for socialism, but it’s a case for regulation, oversight and for government-led rescues when there’s an emergency. So, it’s a turning – nobody’s going to go back. We’re not going to go back to Karl Marx, but we are going to rediscover some of the things that Franklin Roosevelt learned 75 years ago.”