Krugman’s blog, 3/20/16

There was one post yesterday, “Trump Didn’t Put the Con in Conservatism:”

So, I’m in a time zone far, far away — and also still shaky, although I’m finally managing to hold down some food. Output will still be low, but I wanted to note something about the reactions to the John Harwood interview with Paul Ryan, which are very relevant to understanding the Republican mess.

Liberals have been jumping, rightly, on Ryan’s extraordinary dismissal of any attempt to look at the distribution of tax cuts as “ridiculous.” But conservative writers — even those who are relatively moderate, or at least try to seem that way — clearly still view Ryan as an almost saintly figure: serious, intellectually honest, and compassionate toward the poor.

He isn’t, of course. His various budgets all have the same basic outline: huge tax cuts for the rich combined with savage cuts in benefits for the poor, with the net effect being to increase, not reduce the budget deficit. But he pretends that they’re deficit-reduction proposals by claiming that he will raise trillions in revenue by closing unspecified loopholes and achieve trillions more in unspecified savings. In other words, Ryan has been playing a con game in which he uses magic asterisks to mask a reverse Robin Hood agenda — take from the poor, give to the rich — as deficit hawkery.

This isn’t hard to see, and it has been pointed out many times. Back in 2011, at the height of media Ryanolatry, the truth even became slightly mainstream, as reporters started to point out the absurdities of his assumptions.

But moderate Republican pundits can’t, won’t see the obvious. For them it’s all about affect — how he comes across — which is also why they saw tax-slashing, war-starting Marco Rubio as somehow a break from the failures of the Bush years.

So when these commentators lament the blindness of primary voters, their willingness to be taken in by an obvious con, they might want to take a look in the mirror. Is it really the con that bothers them, or just the vulgarity?

What freaks them out to such a degree is that Trump shouts out loud what they’ve been saying for 40 years, but using dog whistles and whispers.

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