Krugman Gets to the Heart of American Political Dysfunction

Why, then, does Wall Street expect anyone to take its whining seriously? That money manager claiming that finance is the only thing America does well also complained that New York’s two Democratic senators aren’t on his side, declaring that “They need to understand who their constituency is.” Actually, they surely know very well who their constituency is — and even in New York, 16 out of 17 workers are employed by nonfinancial industries.

But he wasn’t really talking about voters, of course. He was talking about the one thing Wall Street still has plenty of thanks to those bailouts, despite its total loss of credibility: money.

Money talks in American politics, and what the financial industry’s money has been saying lately is that it will punish any politician who dares to criticize that industry’s behavior, no matter how gently — as evidenced by the way Wall Street money has now abandoned President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney. And this explains the industry’s shock over recent events.

This is why a tax increase on millionaires to help bring down the deficit, favored in poll after poll by a great majority of the country, can be ignored. And why, if policy preferences diverge between the 50th percentile and the 90th, the preference of the 50th percentile is almost always ignored by elected officials.

I’m of a mind that campaign financing should be a publicly funded, monthly sum adjusted for inflation, with a time limit of 9 months of public funding. Candidates could use their own money to supplement, but no other funding could be directed by the campaign.

This would change the entire political system so fundamentally, I don’t think it’s possible to predict the effects.

** Also, writing while working full time, taking classes, and trying to have a life is quite difficult. I’m playing catch up on a lot of blogging issues, hopefully back to regular writing soon.

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