Getting the Knee Jerks Under Control

With the annoying confidence of the truly ignorant, television’s chattering heads now insist every night that Barack Obama and John McCain “tell us what they’re going to cut” from their spending programs. The droning chants for “cutting” reflects the traditional mentality of the national press corps, but it is hard to imagine anything less relevant or more stupid as we confront a deep recession. Fortunately the Nobel committee has just awarded the 2008 medal to Paul Krugman, so perhaps he will command the attention of these blowhards when he urges more rather than less federal spending (a view that has also been expressed by less eminent figures lately). That he does forthrightly today in denouncing the “prejudice” against spending and deficits, while offering pertinent advice to voters and the next president:

“Will the next administration do what’s needed to deal with the economic slump? Not if Mr. McCain pulls off an upset. What we need right now is more government spending — but when Mr. McCain was asked in one of the debates how he would deal with the economic crisis, he answered: ‘Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control.’

“If Barack Obama becomes president, he won’t have the same knee-jerk opposition to spending. But he will face a chorus of inside-the-Beltway types telling him that he has to be responsible, that the big deficits the government will run next year if it does the right thing are unacceptable.

“He should ignore that chorus. The responsible thing, right now, is to give the economy the help it needs. Now is not the time to worry about the deficit.”

Getting the Knee Jerks Under Control