Paul Krugman, renowned economist and New York Times columnist, railed against the President George W. Bush's economic plan and foreign policy in front of a full house in Kane Hall last night.
"No problem is treated as something to be solved," said Krugman. "It is only a way to push a pre-existing agenda."
Krugman accused the Bush administration of being irresponsible and dishonest in policies ranging from environmental protection to the 2003 tax cut to the war in Iraq.
"[The 2003 tax cut] was wildly irresponsible, third-world irresponsible, banana-republic irresponsible," said Krugman. "We can't afford any of it."
The tax cut came despite indication that the United States would be facing a "catastrophic" deficit, about $550 billion next year. In addition, cutting taxes in the face of a war has never happened in U.S. history, according to Krugman.
The dishonesty in selling the tax cut was the second accusation Krugman leveled at the Bush administration. The White House claimed 92 million people would get an average cut of $1,000, which Krugman points out was literally true.
However, Krugman accused the administration's economist of not understanding the meaning of the word "average," pointing out that if Bill Gates walks into a bar, the net worth of the patrons would all be a billion dollars. In reality, said Krugman, the rich who received a $90,000 tax cut drove the average up, while among average families, one half received no cut and the other half averaged about $100.
"The style of [the war in Iraq] was highly similar to what happened on the tax cut," said Krugman. "It is the military equivalent to running severe budget deficits."
Since no post-war allowance was planned for, Krugman accused the administration of acting with the policy that if you don't know what the costs are going to be, you assume they are zero.
The combined effects of the tax cuts and the war mean the government is 25 percent short of the revenue needed to maintain existing programs, said Krugman. If this situation continues, according to Krugman, one of three things must happen: the Bush tax cuts must be repealed, the government must default on the debt or the social programs need to be cut. At this point, said Krugman, the United States is going to have a "Wile E. Coyote" moment, going over the cliff and not realizing it until too late.
"[The United States] is not the worst place in the world ... it is the place where things are going wrong most relative to what was expected," said Krugman in the reception preceding his speech. "A lot of things have gone wrong."
Krugman, who was in California yesterday, also provided his opinion on the most recent of hot-button political issues -- the recall election.
"It's pretty disheartening, Schwarzenegger never gave any coherent answer as to what he was going to do," said Krugman in an interview, adding a warning that reality would hit soon. "He's about to discover two plus two equals four after all."
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