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Op-Ed: Krugman: Obama 'most consequential president in American history'

By John Presta     Oct 13, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton and the winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2008, is saying nice things about President Barack Obama and his presidency. This is the same Krugman that once said he was "skeptical" of Obama succeeding.
In an in-depth piece in Rolling Stone magazine, Krugman now writes that "Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history."
While Krugman makes clear he isn't pleased with Obama's troubling "surveillance-state policies," he heaps high praise for cleaning up the mess inherited from possibly the worst president in American history, George W. Bush. In spite of the fact that the polling for the U.S. Senate races are very slightly favoring Republicans according to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website, Krugman does not blame Obama for this. Other election prognosticators like Sam Wang are swinging slightly toward the Democrats.
Krugman goes on to say that while his feeling that the Affordable Care Act is "imperfect," he now admits that Obama's legacy legislation is "working better than anyone expected." Krugman didn't like financial reform, but finds that it is effective. Krugman rightfully blames Republicans for obstructionism but has "nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries." On the environment Krugman says that policy could become Obama's major legacy.
Krugman has no hope of the right-wing, Tea Party-inspired "Obama-bashing," blaming it on the right portraying him as an "Islamic atheist Marxist Kenyan." Krugman sees no end to this.
On the left, Krugman dismisses folks like Cornell West who blame Obama for not stopping the impossible task of ending all of the ills of all of the poor.
Krugman also dismisses Obama's low approval ratings because the polls don't "mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on."
Krugman lists six major accomplishments: health care, financial reform, the economy, the environment, national security and social change.
In the area of health care in which an excited Vice President Joe Biden whispered audibly to President Obama at the signing ceremony, ''This is a big fucking deal!'' Krugman says he was "right." Despite ups and downs, the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, has been a smashing success with "multiple independent surveys show a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, probably around 10 million."
In the area of financial reform, Krugman says there is a provision of Dodd-Frank that place financial institutions "under extra scrutiny" in the event of a major financial crisis. On the economy, the successes have been many. More than 10 million jobs created in 55 months, for example. Among other factors, the trillion dollar plus stimulus plan had the overwhelming "consensus among economists that the Obama stimulus plan helped mitigate the worst of the slump." Krugman, in fact argues that the stimulus should have been larger.
On the environment, Krugman credits Obama in the area of "renewable fuels" in loan guarantees and tax credits to incentivize corporations to move the process forward. Krugman argues that "The share of U.S. energy provided by wind and solar has grown dramatically since Obama took office."
On national security, Krugman admits he is no expert but credits Obama for not committing ground troops and engaging in open-ended conflicts. Then there is the last category of "social change." Women's rights and legalization of same-sex marriage have been two of the bigger changes experienced during the Obama years. Krugman says that Obama may very well have been a "follower" and not a "leader" in these areas, but he did go along. And for that Krugman credits Obama.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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