Krugman pulls no punches in his last column, Freezing Out Hope. Some choice excerpts:
After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?
On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.
So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.
…America’s long-run deficit problem has nothing at all to do with overpaid federal workers…employee pay is only a small fraction of federal expenses; even cutting the payroll in half would reduce total spending less than 3 percent.
So freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater.
Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake. Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction