Krugman’s blog, 10/23/15

There were three posts yesterday.  The first was “The Biggest Losers:”

How it went yesterday at the Benghazi committee:

It was actually pretty incredible. Has any serious presidential candidate had to undergo that kind of grilling, demonstrate that much sheer physical stamina and sustained intellectual discipline? The Republicans wanted to portray Hillary Clinton as a super-villain, and ended up making her look like a superhero.

But the real losers here are the reporters and centrist pundits who let themselves be played, month after month, by Trey Gowdy and company. I mean, anyone who took these chumps seriously has proved himself an ever bigger chump than they are.

Yesterday’s second post was “The $6 Trillion Men:”

So it now appears that Paul Ryan will end up as Speaker of the House; he will continue to furrow his brow and talk very seriously about the need to reduce deficits, while wowing the press with his ability to use PowerPoint. But I have a proposal for any journalists who interview him: ask for his assessment of the tax proposals from Republican presidential candidates.

As Howard Gleckman points out, all of the candidates are proposing to hand out “free stuff” – unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy – on a truly impressive scale. The average budget cost is $6 trillion over the next decade; as it happens, Marco Rubio, who seems to be the most likely survivor of the demolition derby, comes in slightly above that average, at $6.5 trillion.

This is pretty amazing, or would be if you took all that deficit hawkery from 2011 and 2012 seriously. Why, it’s almost as if Republicans never cared about deficits, and were just using the issue to attack Obama and pave the way for cuts in social insurance programs.

The last post yesterday was “Scam They Am:”

Eric Lipton and Jennifer Steinhauer, in an impressive piece of investigative reporting, find that the various PACs encouraging what Greg Sargent calls the Freedom Fraud caucus are basically in it for the money; the bulk of what they raise ends up as consultants’ fees and the like, paid to the same people organizing the drives.

The thing to realize is how broad a phenomenon this is. As Rick Perlstein pointed out several years ago, the modern conservative movement is in large part a “strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers” with “a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.”

So goldbuggism, for example, is intimately tied to direct-marketing schemes for gold coins and gold certificates. I’ve been getting mail from the American Seniors Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AARP; sure enough, it’s a for-profit enterprise whose goal is to sell me insurance. And so on.

This is surely a much more important part of our political story than almost anyone acknowledges. I don’t think you can understand the depth of Obama- and Hillary-hatred without understanding just how much of it is generated by scammers out to make a buck off the racism and misogyny of some — sad to say, fairly many — older white men.

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