The New York Times’s Paul Krugman published an interesting column last week entitled, “Hey, Small Spender.” The “small spender” in Dr. Krugman’s description is – sans deliberate irony – the federal government. In his piece, Dr. Krugman once again argued that an acceleration of federal spending was called for to reduce unemployment and to accelerate economic growth. This is by itself unremarkable, for he has over the past couple of years argued that the federal government should spend more, and run still larger deficits, than it is currently doing.
What was remarkable about this latest piece was instead Dr. Krugman’s depiction of where we already are, in particular his repeated assertions that no spending expansion has yet taken place. As example, his column stated, “The whole story (of expanded government) is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending.” (Emphasis added). Later in the same column, “Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.” Krugman repeats this “never happened” verdict two more times later in his column. For good measure, he also writes of a “widespread perception that government spending has surged, when it hasn’t.” He attributes this alleged misperception in part to a “disinformation campaign from the right, based on the usual combination of fact-free assertions and cooked numbers.”