Paul Krugman+ Your Authors @paulkrugman Nobel laureate. Op-Ed columnist, @nytopinion. Author, “The Return of Depression Economics,” “The Great Unraveling,” "Arguing With Zombies," + more. Jul. 23, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

GOP flailing over what to do now that reopening has stalled sheds light on the old "Evil or stupid?" controversy. It's now clear that the answer is, both 1/ 

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it wasn't entirely clear what was motivating R demands for austerity in the face of mass unemployment. Was it sabotage — trying to hamstring Obama's crisis response? Or actual ignorance? 2/

That is, did they actually believe that amid a slump, when people are being forced to tighten their belts, the govt should tighten its belt too (which deepens the slump)? Or did they just pretend to believe that with a Dem in the WH? 3/

Well, right now people like Ted Cruz are making the same argument, and waging a war on unemployment benefits, with Trump in the WH. This suggests that Cruz et al really are ignorant, not realizing that ending worker support is likely to hammer the economy and ensure R defeat 4/

And it sure looks as if Rs really believe, in the teeth of the evidence, that UI is holding back recovery by encouraging workers to remain idle — not sustaining the economy by supporting consumer demand 5/

Now, this doesn't mean that Rs are or will be honest. Their deficit posturing was clearly hypocritical; they didn't even flinch when Trump's tax cut exploded the deficit, and you know they'll suddenly become deficit hawks if Biden makes it 6/

But recent events make it clear that it isn't just malice; ignorance is also driving GOP economic positioning 7/

You can follow @paulkrugman.


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