Friday, July 22, 2011

Obama more conservative than Nixon

Paul Krugman, Opinion, The New York Times:

Bruce Bartlett says what you’re not supposed to say: Obama has governed as a moderate conservative, somewhat to the right of Richard Nixon. The frothing-at-the-mouth comments are an extra bonus.

And it is, of course, true; although Obama defenders would say that he had no option. Still, the point is that if you ask what Mitt Romney would probably be doing if he were in the White House and not trying desperately to convince his party that he shares its madness, it would look a lot like what Obama is doing.

There are, however, two crucial points to understand.

First, Obama gets no credit for his moderation, and never will. No matter how far right he moves, Republicans will move further right; and nothing he can do will keep them from denouncing him as a radical socialist.

Second, moderate conservatism isn’t working as a policy matter. As I’ve tried to tell everyone from the beginning of the Lesser Depression, a deeply depressed economy in which monetary policy is up against the zero lower bound turns the normal rules of policy upside down. We’re in a world in which conventional prudence is folly, in which playing it safe is extremely risky. And we have, alas, a conventionally prudent, play-it-safe president — the kind of president who might have done fine in the 1990s, but not now.

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