I happen to believe that Paul Krugman has been at least 90% correct through a several year period in which the majority of economists and pundits were 90% wrong. And while Krugman did spend much of that time--like Roubini, Stiglitz, Kuttner and others--shaking his head and sometimes channeling Keith Olbermann when he complained and exhorted and, yes, fumed at the "common wisdom", I NEVER considered him a shrill chicken little running around like he was about to have his head chopped off by a sharp piece of dark sky.
Which is one of the reasons why I find his most recent essay so compelling. The other is that it just is.
Of course I recommend you read the whole thing if you haven't already, but a few choice passages follow.
First, his introductory summation--
The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.
He's been making these two points all along, of course, and that was before the most recent "haircut." So now it comes with even greater emphasis and, dare I say it, "concern".
The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad.
The centrists to whom Krugman refers remind me of the centrists here on DKos, for whom time does not seem to be of the essence and compromise is all well and good and to be expected. Neither of which could be further from the truth. Obama did not just enter "another" Presidency, and his turn at the wheel will not be measured like the rest, nor can it be.
Anyone who follows Krugman and the economists who come to similar conclusions knows this isn't just another economic shitstorm. The others were imposters. What's more, this one's occuring during two wars and, oh yeah, global warming. So the stakes are higher than we can rightly imagine. And while all reasonable people would like to give him the benefit of the doubt while he adjusts to the cockpit, it's just impractical. In this kind of crisis we need level-headedness, yes, but a ridiculously high appreciation for the true urgency of now. For good measure, we ought to assume the need for the urgency grows exponentially every day that these very large problems remain very largely unaddressed.
So while it is truly heartening to see the things that have been accomplished since inauguration day (excluding the tax problems, of course), they are, unfortunately, just the bongo intro to what must become a soaring anthem rocketing to the heavens and shooting for the moon. Yes, in fact, we need miracles.
We can rightly blame it on George Bush, but we can't pretend that now is the time to approach all things in moderation. As Krugman intimates, it's not time for "centrism." That time has come and gone. George Bush used up most of the fuel taking this ship out into the middle of the storm. We can't zig-zag back by some collegial, bi-partisan good enough for government work process of successive approximation. We head straight for shore by dead reckoning or we don't reach it. Period.
Like Krugman, I believe the economic downturn is going to be hard and long, that most people still have no idea what is coming, like, say, after the first week of the Iraq War. Well, like that war, the depression is going to be hell and the effects are going to last a generation or two. In fact, this nation may not ever completely recover. As Bush's own National Intelligence Committee reported this past fall, by 2025 the United States will be a "leader among equals", quite possibly still on a downward trajectory if the corporatists are allowed to keep siphoning off of the gains.
Oh, and don't forget global warming.