New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes a look at the last GOP presidential debate, and finds the field limping along and struggling to provide any convincing criticism of President Obama’s impressive record. Krugman explains,
…The shared premise of everyone on the Republican side is that the Obama years have been a time of policy disaster on every front. Yet the candidates on that stage had almost nothing to say about any of the supposed disaster areas.
And there was a good reason they seemed so tongue-tied: Out there in the real world, none of the disasters their party predicted have actually come to pass. President Obama just keeps failing to fail. And that’s a big problem for the G.O.P. — even bigger than Donald Trump.
Start with health reform. Talk to right-wingers, and they will inevitably assert that it has been a disaster. But ask exactly what form this disaster has taken, and at best you get unverified anecdotes about rate hikes and declining quality.
Meanwhile, actual numbers show that the Affordable Care Act has sharply reduced the number of uninsured Americans — especially in blue states that have been willing to expand Medicaid — while costing substantially less than expected. The newly insured are, by and large, pleased with their coverage, and the law has clearly improved access to care.
Krugman ads that Republican politicians know now that bashing Obamacare is getting harder to sell and that it is not the job-killer they predicted. “In the year and a half since Obamacare went fully into effect, the U.S. economy has added an average of 237,000 private-sector jobs per month,” notes Krugman, “better than anything we’ve seen since the 1990s.”
As for the GOP candidates’ discussion of economic policies in the debate, Krugman explains “Why didn’t the other candidates say more? Probably because at this point the Obama economy doesn’t look too bad…domestic oil production has soared and oil imports have plunged since Mr. Obama took office,” adds Krugman. if you compare unemployment rates over the course of the Obama administration with unemployment rates under Reagan, Mr. Obama ends up looking better – unemployment was higher when he took office, and it’s now lower than it was at this point under Reagan.”
Further, “the Obama economy has utterly failed to deliver the disasters — hyperinflation! a plunging dollar! fiscal crisis! — that just about everyone on the right predicted. And this has evidently left the Republican presidential field with nothing much to say.”
Krugman distills the GOP candidates’ core meme: “The only way to thrive, the right insists, is to be nice to the rich and cruel to the poor, while letting corporations do as they please.”
Meanwhile, President Obama “raises taxes on the 1 percent while subsidizing health care for lower-income families, ” and “provides stimulus in a recession…regulates banks and expands environmental protection.”
Krugman acknowledges the unmet expectations of the President’s economic policies, but adds that Obama has a nonetheless impressive litany of accomplishments, which are very hard to criticize in a credible way. Republicans are forced to rely on tired memes, while the longer term benefits of President Obama’s leadership are starting to kick in.
Without getting too optimistic, Dems are in good position to hold the presidency and make significant gains at the federal, state and local levels. President Obama and the Democrats have done their part to improve Democratic prospects. Now Republicans are cooperating with a weak field of candidates, a circus-like atmosphere, unconvincing arguments and no accomplishments of their own.