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Friday, July 4, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Build We Won’t": What About the Cost of the Afghanistan War?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Build We Won’t" (, Paul Krugman complains about America's failure to spend on highway construction and maintenance since 2008. Krugman writes:

"Adjusted for inflation and population growth, public expenditures on construction have fallen more than 20 percent since early 2008. In policy terms, this represents an almost surreally awful wrong turn; we’ve managed to weaken the economy in the short run even as we undermine its prospects for the long run. Well played!"

Krugman's conclusion:

"What’s useful about the looming highway crisis is that it illustrates just how self-destructive that political choice has become. It’s one thing to block green investment, or high-speed rail, or even school construction. I’m for such things, but many on the right aren’t. But everyone from progressive think tanks to the United States Chamber of Commerce thinks we need good roads. Yet the combination of anti-tax ideology and deficit hysteria (itself mostly whipped up in an attempt to bully President Obama into spending cuts) means that we’re letting our highways, and our future, erode away."

Obama's not to blame for the failure to repair roads owing to Republican debt hysteria? Oh really?

Krugman fails to mention that the cost of the Afghanistan War since Obama became president in 2009 will easily exceed $1 trillion, including care for veterans. Yup, $1 trillion would have repaired a lot of roads.

Does Krugman revisit Obama's decision to escalate the ground war in Afghanistan War? No way! But why should it matter? After all, Krugman is not concerned with deficit spending.

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