Ryan Avent Is Sick of Arnold Kling: Invisible Wage-Push Inflation Vigilantes Watch
Now We See the Violence Inherent in the System!: Steven Pinker Is Being Repressed! Department

Paul Krugman Attempts to Untangle the Enigma of Just What Mitt Romney Thinks He Is Doing--Other than Alienating Independent Voters, That Is

Paul Krugman:

Romney’s Economic Closet: [O]n Tuesday, when in a rare moment of candor — and, in his case, such moments are really, really rare — [Mitt Romney] gave away the game. Speaking in Michigan, Mr. Romney was asked about deficit reduction, and he absent-mindedly said something completely reasonable:

If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy.

A-ha. So he believes that cutting government spending hurts growth, other things equal. The right’s ideology police were, predictably, aghast…. And a Romney spokesman tried to walk back the remark…. But that’s not what the candidate said… he is, in fact, a closet Keynesian…. Mr. Romney is not a stupid man…. [W]e know who he turns to for economic advice…. Consider Mr. Mankiw…. In an early edition of his best-selling textbook, he dismissed supply-side economics — the doctrine embraced by the sainted Ronald Reagan — as the creation of “charlatans and cranks.” And, in 2009, he called for higher inflation as a solution to the economic crisis….

[W]hat Mr. Romney blurted out Tuesday reflected his real economic beliefs — as opposed to the nonsense he pretends to believe, because it’s what the Republican base wants to hear. And therein lies the reason Mr. Romney acts the way he does, why he is running a campaign of almost pathological dishonesty.

For he is. Every one of the Romney campaign’s major themes, from the attacks on President Obama for going around the world apologizing for America (he didn’t), to the insistence that Romneycare and Obamacare are very different (they’re virtually identical), to the claim that Mr. Obama has lost millions of jobs (which is only true if you count the first few months of his administration, before any of his policies had taken effect), is either an outright falsehood or deeply deceptive. Why the nonstop mendacity?

As I see it, it comes down to the cynicism underlying the whole enterprise. Once you’ve decided to hide your beliefs and say whatever you think will get you the nomination, to pretend to agree with people you privately believe are fools, why worry at all about truth?

What this diagnosis implies, of course, is that the many people on the right who don’t trust Mr. Romney… are correct…. [I]t’s anyone’s guess what lies beneath the mask.

So should those who don’t share the right’s faith be comforted by the evidence that Mr. Romney doesn’t believe anything he’s saying?… If he doesn’t dare disagree with economic nonsense now, why imagine that he would become willing to challenge that nonsense later?…