The Shifting Sands of Krugman's Column

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal finds inconsistencies in his arguments on Angela Merkel's Germany and the solvency of Social Security.

In his "Best of the Web Today" column, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto offered several examples of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman showing inconsistency in his pronouncements. First there was Krugman's evaluation of poor economic leadership in Germany:

- "There's a problem: conservative politicians, clinging to an out-of-date ideology-and, perhaps, betting (wrongly) that their constituents are relatively well positioned to ride out the storm-are standing in the way of action. No, I'm not talking about Bob Corker, the Senator from Nissan-I mean Tennessee-and his fellow Republicans. . . . I am, instead, talking about Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and her economic officials, who have become the biggest obstacles to a much-needed European rescue plan."-former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, New York Times, December 15, 2008.

- "Why is Europe falling short? Poor leadership is part of the story. European banking officials, who completely missed the depth of the crisis, still seem weirdly complacent. And to hear anything in America comparable to the know-nothing diatribes of Germany's finance minister you have to listen to, well, Republicans."-Krugman, New York Times, March 16, 2009.

- "The euro area economy grew 1 percent in the second quarter of this year, a much better rate than had been expected, as Germany's best quarterly performance since reunification compensated for slow growth in Spain and Italy and a sharp decline in Greece, according to data released Friday."-news story, New York Times, August 14, 2010.

Taranto also found cognitive dissonance in Krugman's reporting on the solvency of Social Security in the next few years:

- "The bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing recession have hurt jobs, home prices and now Social Security. This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office."-news story, New York Times, March 25, 2010.

- "Social Security's attackers claim that they're concerned about the program's financial future. But their math doesn't add up, and their hostility isn't really about dollars and cents. Instead, it's about ideology and posturing. . . . Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century."-former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, New York Times, August 16, 2010.