The Right Opinion

Paul Krugman, Comic Genius

By R. Emmett Tyrrell · Aug. 12, 2010

WASHINGTON – The other day, New York Times columnist (and Nobel laureate, though he has yet to be found guilty of plagiarism or fabrication) Paul Krugman indulged one of my favorite pastimes. He engaged in vituperation. He affected a superior pose and lamented that so many of the other superior types had been taken in by mere hucksters. Alas and goddamn!

Said he: “One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans. You might have thought, given past experience, that D.C. insiders (of his quality of mind) would be on their guard against conservatives with grandiose plans. But no.” His target was Rep. Paul Ryan and Ryan’s effort to eventually balance the budget in light of the huge challenges facing America today from the cost of entitlements and the yearly budget deficits as far as the eye can see. Ryan calls his plan “A Roadmap for America’s Future.” Krugman is Ryan’s sworn enemy.

Though I never have seen Ryan described as “intellectually audacious,” Krugman insisted that the term is commonplace and went on to josh, “But it’s the audacity of dopes.” He threw around the word “flimflam,” as in Ryan is “serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.” He used “flimflam” elsewhere and concluded that “the Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.” Well, the agelastic sap is trying his best to be a wit, and I say give him a pass. He is a professor at Princeton University, and laughter in those parched precincts has been banned since about the 1920s, when the students and the junior faculty were suspected of reading H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan’s American Mercury and concluding that they were even funnier than Marx (Karl, not Groucho). That offended the profs.

I, at least, found “audacity of dopes” mildly amusing, and I laughed aloud at flimflam’s being used as a sauce, or perhaps it was the idea that the decade of the 1990s was an unalloyed economic failure. I really cannot remember which, but I laughed.

Yet Krugman’s main criticism of “A Roadmap for America’s Future” is in error and possibly intentionally so. Those Washington insiders whom he is patronizing are not too smart. He claims that the roadmap would not raise the revenues necessary to cover Ryan’s cuts – thus it is flimflam.

In response to similar criticism, Ryan has written, “Our nation’s fiscal crisis is the result of Washington’s unsustainable spending trajectory, not from a lack of sufficient revenue.” And he goes on: “The tax reforms proposed and the rates specified were designed to maintain approximately our historic levels of revenue as a share of GDP. … If needed, adjustments can be easily made to the specified rates to hit the revenue targets and maximize economic growth. While minor tweaks can be made, it is clear that we simply cannot chase our unsustainable growth in spending with ever-higher levels of taxes. The purpose of the Roadmap is to get spending in line with revenue – not the other way around.”

Now, it is always possible that Krugman has not actually followed the debate over the roadmap and argues from ignorance. This happens quite often with him. Yet all Americans should be following this debate over how to address looming entitlements and our budgetary shortfalls. Frankly, I think we have entered a new era. Americans are willing to take cuts in their entitlements for the good of the economy and the well-being of future generations. As for Krugman, give him a polite laugh. Ha-ha, Professor, “leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.” That is a good one, and how are we going to get the economy growing again with tax hikes flambé?

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8 Comments

W.Kurth said:

Is Krugman's "leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce" going to put him in line for a Pulitzer?

Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 7:49 AM

JTG in Indiana said:

Krugman's Nobel is one of many that are routinely awarded to liberals (Carter, Gore & Obama come to mind). It would make me wonder of the relative worth when compared to the latest receients of the "award." One could rightly say that flimflam is being served by the riffraff.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Mediaman said:

I knew this piece by R. Emmett Tyrrell would be entertaining and revealing, given the title and subject matter... but one has to toast the punch line of "tax hikes flambé" as a deserved splash of cold water in Krugman's face.Touché Mssr. Tyrrell, touché...!

Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM

RedBaker in Florida said:

Krugman is like all liberal/progressive/socialists. When all their schemes and failed, and we now turn to common sense, they resort to invective. They are played out and are now in history's dust bin.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM

MichaelSSEC said:

Krugman, like all Leftists, cannot conceive of spending cuts as a solution to anything because they are one-trick ponies. Presented with a problem, their solution is always form a government agency and spend millions (if not billions) of dollars annually until the problem gets so big that a whole slew of agencies must be formed to manage the "crisis."No? The Carter administration formed the Dept of Energy in the 70s. Its sole purpose was to address the oil crisis by guiding energy policy toward getting America off foreign oil as a significant portion of energy needs. When Carter formed the agency, foreign oil accounted for something like 25% of our annual usage. Today, after 35 or so years of DoE "guidance" solving that problem for us, our dependence on foreign oil has "dropped" to something like 75%. Good lord, we cannot afford very many more successes like that.So Liberals are forced to lie. They lie about the causes of problems (it's always the GOP or Wall Street or Capitalism or aliens or something, but never Marxism that's to blame), they lie about the nature of the problems, they lie about their motives in approaching the problems, they lie about their solutions to the problems -- and then when their policies fail miserably, as they always do, they lie about the outcome of the problems.If they told the truth, nobody would ever vote Democrat.They lied about the stunning success of Reagan's economic policies, claiming they were outrageous failures. They lied about FDR's "solutions" to the Great Depression, when in fact his policies deepened and prolonged that disaster. They lied about Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs, which made poverty far worse and stripped millions of people of their pride and independence, condemning whole generations to dependency upon the welfare state. They lied about Clinton's successes, as he claimed credit for the GOP welfare reforms he fought to defeat. They lied about Bush's tax cuts, claiming an across-the-board tax cut was a "tax break for the rich," which is what they reflexively say about EVERY tax cut. And now they're lying about Obama's failures, trying to paint them as successes when Americans can see with their own eyes that things are worse, not better.If they spent half as much energy telling the truth as they spend concocting lies and spin, we'd be in pretty good shape.

Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Mainder said:

I am glad to finally see the proper word used to describe the liberals/progressives - LIARS - MichaelSSec hit the nail in the head From OBAMA TO PELOSE to REID to Dodd to Frank - they are LIARS with every breath they takeVote Conservative in November and then put all elected officials on notice that we will be more vigilant than ever in the future

Monday, August 16, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Donald Kahn said:

There was a 40's tune whose lyric went:"Give me the frimfram sauce with the orsonfay, andchifafa on the side."I never succeeded in finding the etymology of this.

Friday, August 27, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Cowboy in San Antonio said:

Krugman is clearly elitist, and of course, would deny that he ever passes gas. Krugman has clearly never held a real job, one that is tedious, difficult, underpaid, and unappreciated. He is, however, an expert on virtually everything. Just ask him. I would like to invite him to dinner, but he will not eat with the proles, I bet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 10:02 PM