He now directs his ire at what he calls "The Big Sneer"- other pundits (whom he doesn't bother naming) who are allegedly complaining that Democrats (also unnamed) running for office don't have enough "new ideas." This is both sexist and silly, according to Krugman.
After a whole Democratic primary campaign season spent sneering at single payer health care and debt-free higher education as "pie-in-the-sky" utopian pipe dreams, Krugman complains that it's not fair for somebody like Paul Ryan to be lauded by the media, while the righteous Democrats are chronically sneered upon for being so dull and dreary:
I’m not saying that politicians shouldn’t be open to new thinking and evidence about policy. But a political party isn’t like Apple, which needs to keep coming up with glitzier products to stay ahead of Android. There are huge problems with U.S. policy on many fronts, but very few of these problems come from lack of good new ideas. They come, instead, from failure to act on what we already know – and, for the most part, have known for a long time.Since Krugman has never been one to sneer at himself, he does not name himself as the most prominent expert who took the good idea of Medicare For All and sneered all over it in his quest to ensure that Bernie would never beat Hillary in the rigged Democratic Party primaries.
Now, to be fair to Krugman, he doesn't actually go so far as to belatedly espouse Medicare For All, which he dutifully sneered at as "a distraction" when Hillary came out against it on the campaign trail. Rather, he now carefully opines that "access" to universal health care is a good idea, with only a non-progressive president and Congress standing in its way. He doesn't mention that even the uninsured and underinsured already have ways to "access" their local emergency rooms - by taking an ambulance, an Uber, or even crawling there on their hands and knees if they have to, to display that all-American grit, determination, resilience and entrepreneurship.
"Access" is not the same thing as actual care. "Access" isn't getting health care without the fear of going bankrupt and getting even sicker from the relentless worry about how the heck you're ever going to pay the mortgage or rent on top of that mountain of medical bills.
And, to be even fairer to Krugman, he isn't actually calling for an end to the endless obfuscatory delay-tactic discussions of how "we" are ever going to pay for all the good ideas that have been floating around since at least the time of FDR. "Details" do still matter, especially when they're thrashed about in think tanks and universities by credentialed experts. Because despite his claim that Democrats shouldn't be constantly hounded to come up with "new ideas," one never knows what new ideas will burst forth while pounding into dust the details of the good ideas in the think tanks.
And thus does Krugman effectively destroy his own argument for "keeping it simple, stupid!" Meanwhile, though, there still has to be a sneering Strawman upon which to divert all our sneers:
So why the demand for new ideas? Partly it’s because pundits are bored with conventional policy discussion – and/or don’t want to be bothered learning enough to understand actually existing policy issues, preferring sparkly new stuff they can praise simply for its newness. Partly it’s just an excuse for sneering at Democrats, which as I understand it is required by the pundit code.In case you were wondering why Krugman's historic and relentless and punditory sneering at Bernie and his supporters doesn't actually count as sneering, repeat after me: Bernie Is Not a Democrat, Bernie Is Not a Democrat, Bernie Is Not a Democrat. So of course he doesn't really count as either a sincere human being or a politician -- and neither should you, if you're a lefty or an independent.
Since Krugman doesn't bother delving into who actually finances this "pundit code," I mentioned it in my published comment:
When media pundits urge Democratic politicians to "go big, go bold and go new," what they're really prescribing is more austerity for the masses and more riches for the billionaires and corporations who keep them on the air and in print.
This embrace of plutocratic values - "ending welfare as we know it," the deregulation of Big Finance and the telecoms, the offshoring of jobs and manufacturing via "free" trade deals, and the "tough on crime" policies resulting in mass incarceration - is how the "New Democrats" first grabbed power in the 90s. Despite the aftershocks of these neoliberal policies and the loss of a thousand legislative seats in the past decade alone, the party elders and their media stenographers want more of the same. This championship of the status quo is actually their perverted definition of "new."
It doesn't help their message that the most famous New Democrats are now hitting their 70s and 80s. The pundits and the oligarchic donor class running this show are desperate for younger, more charismatic "rising stars" to sell us the same old "Incrementalism You Can Believe In."
Of course Medicare for All is a great idea, and would be much more cost-effective than our current privatized system. But they don't want to admit this because ordinary people having too many nice things might give Mr. Market a nervous breakdown.
Until we force finance capital and the government to get a divorce, and overturn Citizens United, nothing is going to change.