What Obama apparently hasn’t done

A little while back, I posted a look at an open letter from economist Paul Krugman to Barack Obama, which included his ideas on how to fix the American economy. That letter appeared in Rolling Stone in January. Three months later, Krugman declared that “Obama is Wrong” on the cover of Newsweek. I guess the president didn’t take his advice.

The cover story itself was a profile of “Obama’s toughest liberal critic” and his pessimism over the economy. What drew me to it was the fact that it’s about Krugman’s “loyal opposition” to the president. Writer Evan Thomas explains that while Krugman “has all the credentials of a ranking member of the East Coast liberal establishment,” he has been “critical, if not hostile, to the Obama White House.”

To me, the arguments of a guy like that are worth hearing. It’s easy to write off a lot of Obama’s critics as partisan hacks on the warpath, and to therefore ignore or mistrust a lot of what they might say about the economy. But when a Nobel Prize-winning economist who’s generally on board with Obama’s politics says he doesn’t like the way the White House is handling the economy, I think we should probably hear what he has to say.

Indeed, the article is worth reading. It’s more about the man than the issues, but it gives you a real sense of where he’s coming from and what he believes. In the case of the economy, his “anti-establishment” view is that the Obama administration is putting too much faith in Wall Street and isn’t willing to commit to the bold action it will take to fix the economy. Obama’s aides, in turn, have said that Krugman’s belief that the government could successfully take over the banking system is deeply impractical. But as Thomas argues, reading Krugman makes the establishment “uneasy. You hope he’s wrong, and you sense he’s being a little harsh… but you have a creeping feeling that he knows something that others cannot, or will not, see.”

For much, much more from Krugman, feel free to check out his blog over at the New York Times website.

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