Paul Krugman: Republicans Can't Say What They Want in Fiscal Cliff Talks

Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 08:02 AM

By Michael Kling

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Although Republicans are attacking President Barack Obama for failing to propose government spending cuts while seeking tax increases on the wealthy, they have no spending cut ideas of their own, charges New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

While Republicans insist on government spending cuts, they are unable or unwilling to say what should be cut, he writes.

"Republican posturing on the deficit has always been a con game, a play on the innumeracy of voters and reporters."

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

Obama, for his part, is refusing to "negotiate with himself" by proposing what he thinks Republicans want, Krugman writes. Instead, he's demanding that Republicans say what they want.

They either can't or won’t.

Obama proposes about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade by limiting deductions and letting the Bush tax-rate cuts expire for the wealthy and by cutting spending by about $400 billion.

"So what are Republicans offering as an alternative? They say they want to rely mainly on spending cuts instead. Which spending cuts? Ah, that’s a mystery."

Proposals to reduce entitlements will not produce enough savings, Krugman asserts.
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 will save about $113 billion over the next decade, while increasing premiums for the wealthy would save about $20 billion.

Republicans branded a White House proposal to raise taxes with stimulus spending put in place in lieu of government spending cuts as a “joke,” including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“I think we’re going over the cliff,” Graham told CBS’s “Face The Nation” news program.

“It’s pretty clear to me they’ve made a political calculation. This offer doesn’t remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy.”

“I’m serious about revenue,” Graham added.

“You can limit deductions to $40 or $50,000 a person, which takes care of the middle class. Upper income Americans will lose their deductions, and raise about $800 billion of revenue. But I’ll only do that if we do entitlement reform, and the president’s plan when it comes to entitlement reform is just, quite frankly a joke.”

Editor's Note: Economist Unapologetically Calls Out Bernanke, Obama for Mishandling Economy. See What They Did

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