Krugman’s Complaint

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

Does Walker’s victory pave the way for the GOP in 2012?

I know it’s bad form to kick a man when he’s down, but if Paul Krugman’s initial response this morning to the Wisconsin returns is any indication, he and his side should be bracing for another boot come November, perhaps even in Wisconsin. He writes:

Obviously I’m not happy with the result; not just out of political sympathies, but because all the recent political trends have been rewarding the side that caused the very crisis from which it is now benefiting, not to mention politicians who have been wrong about everything since the crisis hit.

Taking the Wisconsin crisis first, what on earth could Krugman be talking about? Governor Walker inherited a budget that was spinning out of control, which in only two years he not simply balanced but brought into surplus – all by taking on the public-sector unions and the entrenched politicians who were themselves the cause of that mess. Thus, ”recent political trends” – yesterday’s Wisconsin voters – rewarded those who cleaned up the mess, not those who caused it.

As for the broader national economic crisis, yes, the Bush administration was hardly blameless in bringing that about – and Republicans paid the price in November 2008. But when Obama and the newly elected Democratic Congress only deepened the crisis with out-of-control deficits and debt, the voters hardly rewarded them. They gave them a “shellacking,” in Obama’s memorable words. And the “establishment” politicians who’ve supported the Fed, Fanny and Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Act, and other such causes of our crisis are being weeded out by the voters as well, as recent primaries have shown.

Krugman’s basic complaint, of course, is that the politicians haven’t gone even further in the more-government direction that the repudiated 111th Congress took. If yesterday’s results are a portent of the future, voters increasingly understand that our having gone in that direction is what gave us the crisis in the first place. That’s the good sense that Krugman and his side continue to resist on this morning after.