Krugman: 'You've Got to Be Kidding' if You Think Obama Should Have Fixed Economy by Now

James Taranto, who puts together the Wall Street Journal feature Best of the Web, was in excellent form Monday on the shifting standards of a certain economist turned partisan hack columnist who writes for the New York Times. When it comes to Republican presidents, four years is plenty of time to deal with inherited economic problems, but when it comes to Obama, "you've got to be kidding" that he should have been expected to fix the economy in just four years. Also on Monday, Krugman called Paul Ryan "an obvious shyster."

Taranato wrote snarkily that "the former Enron adviser had little patience for excuses" before quoting this lengthy excerpt from a Krugman column of October 24, 2003:

In October 2003, the president was gearing up for his re-election campaign, and his Treasury secretary was lowering expectations for job growth. John Snow's prediction of 200,000 new jobs a month in the year before the election "was a huge climb-down from administration predictions earlier [in the] year, when the White House insisted that it expected the economy to add more than five million jobs by next November," wrote Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

"Mr. Snow is predicting that his boss will be the first occupant of the White House since Herbert Hoover to end a term with fewer jobs available than when he started," Krugman added. "This is what he calls success?" And the former Enron adviser had little patience for excuses:

I know, I know, the usual suspects will roll out the usual explanations. It is, of course, Bill Clinton's fault. (Just for the record, the average rate of job creation during the whole of the Clinton administration was about 225,000 jobs a month. Mr. Clinton presided over the creation of 11 million jobs during each of his two terms.) Or maybe Osama bin Laden did it.

But surely there must be a statute of limitations on these excuses. By the time of the election, Mr. Bush will have had almost four years to deal with the legacy of the technology bubble, and more than three years to deal with the economic fallout from 9/11.

Taranto then fast-forwarded to last week's jobs report, which found only 96,000 new jobs created in August. Taranto turned the tables on Krugman: "And the usual suspects are rolling out the usual explanations." In fact, Krugman is now defending a president's failure, even after four years of disappointing economic figures. Taranto quoted Krugman on Monday:

Having prevented Mr. Obama from implementing any of his policies, those same Republicans are pointing to disappointing job numbers and declaring that the president's policies have failed....

What about the argument, which I hear all the time, that Mr. Obama should have fixed the economy long ago? The claim goes like this: during his first two years in office Mr. Obama had a majority in Congress that would have let him do anything he wanted, so he's had his chance.

The short answer is, you've got to be kidding.

As anyone who was paying attention knows, the period during which Democrats controlled both houses of Congress was marked by unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate.

Do we even need to tell you which former Enron adviser we're quoting?

There was more partisan crudity from Krugman in his Monday blog post on his favorite Republican Paul Ryan: "An Obvious Shyster" criticized "Ryan's huge unspecified cuts in discretionary spending":

So the Ryan story isn’t just about Ryan; it’s about how the establishment allowed itself to be taken in by such an obvious shyster, despite warnings from many of us that he was, well, an obvious shyster.