Krugman for Treasury Secretary? Draft Movement Under Way

Liberal columnist and political gadfly seen as perfect choice by austerity opponents

Columnist Paul Krugman says that while he is "flattered," nominating him "really is a bad idea." (Photo: AP) Columnist Paul Krugman says that while he is "flattered," nominating him "really is a bad idea." (Photo: AP)

In news destined to make conservatives revolt (or retch), a movement has been started to draft Paul Krugman as a successor to Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary.             

A petition begun by the actor Danny Glover at Signon.org had nearly 225,652 supporters as of Tuesday morning. The group’s goal is to reach 250,000 signatures.

“We urge you to nominate Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary,” the group’s statement reads. “Krugman will protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts, promote policies to create jobs, and help defeat the austerity dogma in Washington and around the world.”

Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economist and controversial liberal columnist for The New York Times, most recently made waves on Monday by joining calls for the U.S. to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin as a way around another debt ceiling fight.

“It’s easy to make sententious remarks to the effect that we shouldn’t look for gimmicks, we should sit down like serious people and deal with our problems realistically,” Krugman wrote in typical bombastic prose. “That may sound reasonable—if you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years. Given the realities of our political situation, and in particular the mixture of ruthlessness and craziness that now characterizes House Republicans, it’s just ridiculous—far more ridiculous than the notion of the coin.”

Krugman has been outspoken in recent years about the need for more, not less, government spending, in the face of skyrocketing debt and deficits, drawing fire from commentators on the right.

Alas, it may all be for naught. Krugman immediately responded to the draft movement in a blog post by noting that while "flattered, it really is a bad idea" and that "an administrative job requires making hiring and firing decisions, it means keeping track of many things, and that, to say the least, is not my forte."

The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record,” he continued. “As a result, being an op-ed columnist at The Times is a pretty big deal—one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted—and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators.

“[I]think I should stay in my current position as Mr. Outside, an annoying if sympathetic voice they can’t ignore.”

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.