In his column for the New York Times, economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman claims the majority of 2016 GOP presidential candidates are so deep in the pockets of the richest 1 percent that they are practically handing the presidential nomination to Donald Trump.
Krugman notes that many of the supposed top tier candidates have come out with disastrous policy positions on Social Security that are exceedingly unpopular with voters but high on the list of wealthy campaign donors who despise the social safety net.
The blustery Trump has been quiet on Social Security, throwing out populist and nativist red meat to the base which is behind his meteoric rise in the polls.
Pointing out the former President George W. Bush tried to “reform” Social Security after the 2004 election only to hit a brick wall of opposition from the public and lawmakers, Krugman expressed surprise that many of the GOP nominees are attempting to revive the very proposals that were shot down under Bush.
“Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to ‘68 or 70‘. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors,” Krugman wrote. “Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan.”
Krugman calls all of their proposals “bad public policy” and said the only reason for taking the unpopular positions is because of the people with the big money behind their campaigns pulling their strings.
“Wealthy individuals have long played a disproportionate role in politics, but we’ve never seen anything like what’s happening now: domination of campaign finance, especially on the Republican side, by a tiny group of immensely wealthy donors,” Krugman explained. “Indeed, more than half the funds raised by Republican candidates through June came from just 130 families.”
“You often see political analyses pointing out, rightly, that voting in actual primaries is preceded by an “invisible primary” in which candidates compete for the support of crucial elites. But who are these elites? In the past, it might have been members of the political establishment and other opinion leaders. But what the new attack on Social Security tells us is that the rules have changed. Nowadays, at least on the Republican side, the invisible primary has been reduced to a stark competition for the affections and, of course, the money of a few dozen plutocrats,” he added.
Krugman pointed out that, should Trump falter, you can expect the GOP standard bearer to go after Social Security. Again.