The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's greatest gift to American society is his sustained attack on right wing fantasy economics and unashamed advocacy of liberalism. Krugman isn't just a polemicist, he is a Nobel Prize winning economist, so whether or not you agree with him, his opinions matter and influence people at the highest levels of government and industry.
For years Krugman has been pointing out the single major flaw with Republican free market ideology: it doesn't work and never has. The idea that slashing taxes for the rich creates wealth for everyone works only in the minds of ideologues and has never been translated into reality. With every tax cutting president comes greater economic divide, greater poverty and less economic growth overall. Krugman has been at the forefront of exposing this fraudulent ideology, made popular by the likes of Ayn Rand, and has passionately argued for a rational economic system that works for the majority of Americans rather than the elite minority.
Here he was in the Times today attempting to understand Donald Trump's recent adoption of the philosophy that has yielded so few results with his announcement of a new “massive” tax cut he'll reveal next week:
Supply-side economics is a classic example of a zombie doctrine: a view that should have been killed by the evidence long ago, but just keeps shambling along, eating politicians’ brains. Why, then, does it persist? Because it offers a rationale for lower taxes on the wealthy — and as Upton Sinclair noted long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Still, Donald Trump was supposed to be different. Guess what: he isn’t.
To be fair, it’s not clear whether Mr. Trump really believes in right-wing economic orthodoxy. He may just be looking for something, anything, he can call a win — and it’s a lot easier to come up with a tax reform plan if you don’t try to make things add up, if you just assume that extra growth and the revenue it brings will materialize out of thin air.
We might also note that a man who insists that he won the popular vote he lost, who insists that crime is at a record high when it’s at a record low, doesn’t need a fancy doctrine to claim that his budget adds up when it doesn’t.
Trump's astonishingly quick conversion to Randian economics is typical of his lazy thinking and inability to deal with reality. As Krugman argues, Republicans will line up behind him to pass whatever lunacy he comes up with and he can pass it off as a "tremendous" victory, despite the fact that it will cause long term harm to the majority of people.
A responsible government needs to deal with facts, not theory, and any modern president cannot engage in the same destructive economic policies responsible for decimating the country's infrastructure and pushing the working poor to the point of starvation. To Trump though, working Americans are apparently there to vote for him and be used as bargaining chips for negotiations, so it isn't exactly surprising he's willing to sell them out on a moment's notice.