National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly

Archives  | 

Send This Page to a Friend

 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

August 8, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 87




Tom Fox Mandatory reading for Fridays and Tuesdays

By Tom Fox, NCR publisher

It's shortly past five in the morning and this being Friday I am eager to pick up my New York Times at the foot of my driveway. I usually begin my day with the Timesand a cup of coffee. Fridays are special because this is the day I can read Times columnist, Paul Krugman. (His column also appears on Tuesdays.)

If you are not familiar with him you should be. And if you don't get the Times you can read Krugman's columns online at one of the websites dedicated to his writings. Krugman is the most poignant Times critic of a wide range of Bush administration policies. He does not pull his punches.

An economist by profession, he teaches at Princeton (formerly at Stanford) but spends much of his time writing. It's been said that Krugman is the columnist every Democrat in the country feels they must read -- and every Bush Republican loves to hate.

More than any other columnist in America, Krugman has focused on the economic deception and financial corruption of the Bush administration, citing well-researched numbers to prove his points. As Krugman sees it, the rich are running away with the republic, graciously assisted by well-rewarded politicians, many of whom have found their way onto the Bush team.

Krugman portrays Bush as a deceitful man and his team as a melding of corporate, class, and political party interests working on behalf of the wealthiest of Americans.

Several times a month Krugman lacerates the fuzzy math of Bush's tax cut policies, separating the spin from the real facts. He does the same with Bush's social security plans. He has highlighted the corruption behind Dick Cheney's energy task force dealings -- and always in clear and understandable prose.

Meanwhile, hardly a column Krugman writes fails to take on the media in some way, usually criticizing it for its laziness or for simply being imprisoned by economic interests.

An economist (and some say eventual Nobel Prize winner), he is the author of 18 books, but slipped into popular journalism in the mid-1990s when he began writing for Fortune and Slate. His popularity took a big jump when he began writing for the Times just about the time Bush began campaigning for the White House. At the time he was asked not to call Bush a liar in print, but after the election Krugman could no longer hold back his rage. He has written that Bush's tax policy is "patently, shamelessly dishonest," saying one thing while clearly doing another.

He says that 40 percent of Bush's tax cuts will eventually go to the wealthiest one percent of Americans, belying the claim that the cut was aimed at helping the middle class. Other writers have pointed this out, but not with the persistence and clarity of Krugman's analyses.

It has been written that to read through Krugman's columns about Bush "is to watch disdain pass through frustration into rage." "Mr. Bush was lying [during the tax cut debate]," he wrote in August 2001. "It was obvious from the start that the administration's numbers didn't add up. And in case you were wondering, the administration is still lying."

If you have not discovered Paul Krugman I suggest you do. He'll get you angry, but you'll feel good knowing someone else sees the world as you do.

Tom Fox can be reached at

Top of Page   | Home
Copyright © 2003 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111 
TEL:  1-816-531-0538   FAX:  1-816-968-2280