I like the way Paul Krugman doesn't mince words.
The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist has long called out supply-side economists, the ones who continually pitch the infamous trickle-down theory, as "charlatans and cranks."
So it was late last month when our governor, Scott Walker, dutifully pledged allegiance to these charlatans and cranks by speaking at the Manhattan 21 Club dinner hosted by the country's three most prominent supply-side economists — Arthur Laffer of the "curve," Larry Kudlow of CNBC and Stephen Moore, the right-wing Heritage Foundation's chief economist.
This was the same dinner, incidentally, where Rudy Giuliani made his awful "Obama doesn't love America" comment, which Walker shrugged off.
Krugman wasn't as concerned about that in a recent column as he was about Walker joining the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls who feel a need to pay homage to what clearly has been a failed economic theory. Yet Republicans continue to argue that giving tax breaks to the wealthy works, despite all the proof to the contrary.
Moore, the Heritage Foundation mouthpiece, published a book in 2004 titled "Bullish on Bush," Krugman noted. It claimed that Bush's economic policies were creating a permanently strong economy. CNBC's Kudlow, meanwhile, was publicly ridiculing those he called "bubbleheads," who were predicting a housing financing crisis. Of course, we know what happened in Bush's final year.
And like the others, the columnist noted, Laffer has been warning about the wrong things for years now. Laffer, of course, is known for his 40-year-old theory that if tax rates are too high, they discourage work and investment and can lead to revenue losses for the government. He opposed government stimulus funding to jump-start the economy and predicted out-of-control inflation and high interest rates — none of which, of course, has happened.
Yet there was Scott Walker making nice with economists who have been wrong for years, if not decades.
That Wisconsin's governor buys into this trickle-down nonsense says volumes about why this state has trailed so much of the country as it rebounds from the Great Recession. Walker has been a huge fan of Ronald Reagan, the godfather of trickle down, including Reagan's incessant anti-union policies. So none of this should come as a big surprise.
During his first term as governor, Walker turned down roughly a billion dollars in federal funds that would have done things like build a passenger rail infrastructure and give thousands of poor people health care coverage through Medicaid. Jobs would have been created and the economy would have been helped.
In turn he has dished out tax breaks to the corporate community, engineered a drop in the top income tax bracket, and done his best to reduce the income of working people through anti-union measures.
But it isn't working. As Paul Krugman would say, "never has, never will."
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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