Less of a firebrand in person

Paul Krugman was speaking in Norman tonight, and I went to hear him speak.  He's been consistently right on  so many things, and called bullshit earlier than anyone else, that I'm a big fan.  His columns often cause me to change my mind about stuff that I thought I had settled views on.

Having read his columns and books, one thing I thought I knew about him was that he was a rabid, partisan Democrat. In person, though, he came across as very reasonable and much more middle-of-the-road.

For example, a person in the audience lobbed him a soft ball question.  I'm paraphrasing, but the question was something like "Considering the amount of inequality in this country, do you think that raising taxes on the rich is a good way to reduce the deficit?"

Think about it for a moment. What would a hardcore left-wing Democrat have to say to that question?

Here's what Krugman had to say (again, I'm paraphrasing): "There is no way that just just raising taxes on the wealthiest two brackets alone is going to raise enough revenue for all the things that we have to do. When I was a graduate student, we used to say that that it was not enough to tax the rich because there are so few of them. Now, there are more wealthy people because we are a more unequal society, but they still do not make enough money that we can pay for all the investments that we have to make by taxing the rich alone. We have to raise taxes on the middle class too."

Another question from the audience was on whether because of global warming, we need to cut down on international trade, reduce outsourcing and increase local production.  His answer (paraphrasing): "No. To address global warming, we need to price greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. Whether that causes local production to increase, or some other solution to come about, is something that the market should figure out."

So, I walked away from this evening's talk even more impressed with Krugman. And also wondering why, in the national platform that the NY Times column affords him, he is reliably more liberal than his answers today would seem to let on.

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