When George W. Bush first ran for the White House, political reporters assured us that he came across as a reasonable, moderate guy.Words are not just words. They matter because they will tell us what is buzzing around the inside of that person's brain. Krugman continues, handing out the hardest knocks to McCain, but not sparing the Democrats, either (my emphasis):
Yet those of us who looked at his policy proposals — big tax cuts for the rich and Social Security privatization — had a very different impression. And we were right.
The moral is that it’s important to take a hard look at what candidates say about policy. It’s true that past promises are no guarantee of future performance. But policy proposals offer a window into candidates’ political souls — a much better window, if you ask me, than a bunch of supposedly revealing anecdotes and out-of-context quotes.
Shorter Paul - McCain's a whacko, Hillary knows what's she's doing and is using the power of government to help ordinary people, and Obama is still trying to decide if he's a progressive or just playing one on the blogs.
Which brings me to the latest big debate: how should we respond to the mortgage crisis? In the last few days John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have all weighed in. And their proposals arguably say a lot about the kind of president each would be.
Mr. McCain is often referred to as a “maverick” and a “moderate,” assessments based mainly on his engaging manner. But his speech on the economy was that of an orthodox, hard-line right-winger. ... These days, even free-market enthusiasts are talking about increased regulation of securities firms now that the Fed has shown that it will rush to their rescue if they get into trouble. But Mr. McCain is selling the same old snake oil, claiming that deregulation and tax cuts cure all ills.
Hillary Clinton’s speech could not have been more different.
True, Mrs. Clinton’s suggestion that she might convene a high-level commission, including Alan Greenspan — who bears a lot of responsibility for this crisis — had echoes of the excessively comfortable relationship her husband’s administration developed with the investment industry. But the substance of her policy proposals on mortgages, like that of her health care plan, suggests a strong progressive sensibility. ... Mrs. Clinton wants a modern version of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, the New Deal institution that acquired the mortgages of people whose homes were worth less than their debts, then reduced payments to a level the homeowners could afford.
Finally, Barack Obama’s speech on the economy on Thursday followed the cautious pattern of his earlier statements on economic issues.
I was pleased that Mr. Obama came out strongly for broader financial regulation, which might help avert future crises. But his proposals for aid to the victims of the current crisis, though significant, are less sweeping than Mrs. Clinton’s: he wants to nudge private lenders into restructuring mortgages rather than having the government simply step in and get the job done.
Mr. Obama also continues to make permanent tax cuts — middle-class tax cuts, to be sure — a centerpiece of his economic plan. It’s not clear how he would pay both for these tax cuts and for initiatives like health care reform, so his tax-cut promises raise questions about how determined he really is to pursue a strongly progressive agenda.
Paul Krugman is not into currying favor with any administration. He has a day job as one of the most respected economists in the world, and is deeply concerned about ensuring that a progressive get elected. He was an Edwards supporter and I don't think he's happy that his preferred candidate has dropped out. However, he's also very clear that there is only one person left in the race who has a solidly progressive agenda. Now, if only the Blogger Boyz could get over their CDS long enough to be as honest as the person they all claim to admire.
Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.Krugman not so subtly slaps the elite punditocracy for their disparate treatment of Hillary, not even being willing to engage what this person offers the country on the merits of her positions and policies. I'm sure he will be assailed by the Blogger Boyz for being on a personal vendetta against The Precious for saying the simple truth.
Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.
Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.
It's the economy, stupid, and what the candidates have to say about how they will fix it.