As Americans across the fruited plain worry about their jobs and how they're going to make ends meet during the current recession, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman showed Sunday morning just how separated from reality and the common man he actually is.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," the New York Times columnist said that he wasn't worried about how expensive president-elect Barack Obama's economic rescue plan might get, but instead that the problem will be "finding enough stuff to spend on."
How'd you like to have that problem this holiday season?
With total disregard for what Americans are going through, and an almost unthinkable ignorance of the government's current budget, Krugman responded to host George Stephanopoulos's question about whether he's sticking to the $600 billion economic recovery spending projection he offered on the program a month ago:
PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: My number will be going up. My problem is that the actual constraint is not going to be political will. No. The actual constraint is going to be finding enough stuff to spend on. Try to find that much (laughter from panel)...No. The words here are shovel ready. Now, how much is shovel ready? How much can you actually get going in time to help this year and this coming year?
GWEN IFILL, PBS: The governors came to town to Philadelphia and they met with the president-elect and they say we have a lot of shovel ready projects.
KRUGMAN: Yeah, but again, what's a lot? I mean, even with their full wish list you have trouble getting up to 100 billion. So now you start doing other stuff, and you start saying, well, you know, but it's, it is not that easy, believe it or not, even Washington can't spend $600 billion in a year very easily. So, to push north of that is hard to do.
Amazing. The average American is tightening his belt, the 2009 deficit looks like it could be over $1.5 trillion, and this so-called economist is worried that government can't find enough things to spend money on.
Beyond the astounding insensitivity on display here was an almost unimaginable ignorance concerning the U.S. budget. Well, given that this was Krugman, who often makes stuff up to fit his agenda, maybe not.
Regardless, "our" government has figured out a way to spend an extra $550 billion on-budget (meaning not including Social Security and Medicare) since 2005 (projected FY 2009 on-budget spending is $2.61 trillion versus $2.06 trillion in 2005), and this doesn't include any bailout money.
As such, suggesting "Washington can't spend $600 billion in a year very easily" is pretty addle-minded...even for Krugman.