Paul Krugman is a Nobel-prize winning economist and a prolific writer, both on economic theory and as a public intellectual. Through his regular column in the New York Times and in his blog which he calls “The Conscience of a Liberal”, he has become the most widely read, respected, and dismissed commentator in the United States, and perhaps in the world.
In his column and blog, he has condemned the rise of inequality in the United States and championed the health insurance reforms of the Affordable Care Act as imperfect but necessary and fixable. He has called for government intervention, both in the United States and in Europe, to stimulate economies in recession and to provide jobs for the unemployed. He has repeatedly condemned as needless the continuing unemployment crisis in the United States, and the disinterest of U.S. policy makers in doing anything about it.
In his most recent column, he noted the latest report that two million fewer Americans are employed now than six years ago, even though the population has continued to grow, that the rate of unemployment in May remained high at 7.6% , and that four million Americans have been unemployed now for more than six months. Nonetheless most political insiders considered it “a pretty good jobs report.”
Given his concerns, I think it curious that Krugman has not offered his views on the biggest political issue of the summer, the proposed immigration reform that would roughly triple immigration into the U.S. over the next decade, while providing amnesty and entry into the legal U.S. labor market for 11 million illegal immigrants.
Here’s what I think Paul Krugman thinks about the immigration expansion and amnesty: Krugman has to believe and recognize that allowing more poor immigrants into the U.S. will increase economic inequality. He has to believe and recognize that allowing so many more immigrants into the legal U.S. labor market will make the plight of unemployed and underemployed Americans even worse than it is now. And he has to believe and recognize that the amnesty will attract more illegal immigration into the U.S. in the future, as was the case after the 1986 amnesty giving rise to the current “immigration crisis”.
He also has to believe and recognize that tripling the amount of future immigration and legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants while so many Americans are unemployed will doom the Affordable Care Act to failure and financial collapse.
If Krugman believes these things about the proposed immigration expansion and amnesty bill, why doesn’t he say what he thinks in his column? I think he’s afraid of venturing outside the liberal intellectual and cultural bubble in which he lives and prospers. What would all his admirers at the New York Times think? Actually weighing in on the most controversial political fight of the summer seems riskier than again condemning the deficit hawks and “Very Serious People” who care nothing for the tragedy of the unemployed.
Does that sound about right, Paul? If I’ve misrepresented your thinking in any way, you have the means to make your actual views clear, and I hope you will.