I wouldn’t all mind knowing what economist Paul Krugman thinks of the anti-poverty speech Senator Marco Rubio gave last week. The address had some interesting ideas including (a) giving states wide latitude over running safety net programs fully funded by the feds, and (b) replacing the Earning Income Tax Credit with a straight-out wage subsidy. I don’t think it will be the last policy speech Rubio gives on the matter, but in my opinion a strong first step.
Instead what I got was a columnist Paul Krugman and his backward-looking, nuance-free analysis of all the stuff he thinks Republicans get wrong on anti-poverty policy. Oh, and this: “For now, however, Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America’s poor. And that will remain true no matter how hard the likes of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio try to convince us otherwise.”
Wow. How amazingly uninsightful and unhelpful, though perhaps not to Krugman’s web traffic. Krugman knocks the GOP for being all talk on helping the poor and then completely ignores the substance of a GOP policy speech on helping the poor. Here is what I wrote about the Rubio plan:
There is much to recommend the Rubio plan. Policy analysts on the left and right should take it seriously while highlighting its pluses and minuses. The proposal gets some big things right. It doesn’t confuse poverty fighting with budget cutting, though spending will drop if poverty falls. It tries to raise the ceiling for work rewards rather than lower the floor for income support. It takes advantage of states as laboratories of policy innovation while still maintaining a federal funding role. It recognizes how globalization and automation are transforming the American labor market and changing the nature of modern work.
Add in other pro-middle class/anti-poverty ideas such as expanding the child tax credit and reforming jobless benefits, and what emerges perhaps is much of the foundation of a 21st century center-right economic agenda for greater economic mobility, and prosperity and human flourishing.
Am I right? Am I wrong? Or if I don’t embrace the current Democratic policy agenda, I am just an “enemy of the poor.” Gosh, it is almost as if Krugman doesn’t want his reader to know what Rubio’s ideas are and decide for themselves if they make any sense. Well, maybe his next column will be better!