Krugman's op-ed piece in the Times today argues that the claim that the Obama administration tried a massive stimulus plan and it didn't work is wrong. In fact, the stimulus plan was not large enough and much of the plan was not federal government spending. Instead, it was tax cuts and grants to states to make up for the lost revenues states faced. Much of what he says is true. In posts I did at the time of the stimulus, I argued that much in the stimulus bill was not stimulus. Instead, it was spending on programs that Democrats wanted but didn't put in the regular budget.
Krugman also argues that when people think of Obama as pushing big government, they don't have any massive new programs to point to. Here, it is clear that no matter how smart Krugman is, he doesn't get some basic ideas that people have. Krugman notes that the health care bill hasn't really kicked in yet so there is no new bureaucracy in place yet. True, but people anticipate there will be. People see that the focus of the administration had not been jobs but programs long held dear by Democrats in Congress, especially health care. The stimulus bill, as already pointed out, also included many things that may or may not be good, but could not be considered stimulus spending. People see that, for all the rhetoric from the administration, the focus of the administration was on programs long sought after by Democrats and not economic recovery. Krugman misses the point because he shared the same desire for the programs pursued by the president.