President Obama's gimmicky idea to keep the budget in check by freezing non-defense spending shows he's fallen into the "deficit peacock" camp, writes Paul Krugman. The camp abounds with politicians who support superficial—but politically popular—methods to present the illusion of fiscal discipline. It won't work, and "the fact that anyone thought such a dumb policy idea was politically smart is bad news because it’s an indication of the extent to which we’re failing to come to grips with our economic and fiscal problems."
The economy is in dire straits, but our political system is unwilling or unable to tackle two necessary tasks: creating jobs and reining in health care costs. "Don’t blame Mr. Obama," Krugman writes in the New York Times. "There’s only so much one man can do, even if he sits in the White House. Blame our political culture instead, a culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious efforts to solve America’s problems."