Rubinomics may still reign over the Democratic party, but thehair-shirt economic orthodoxy has taken an influential hit. New YorkTimes columnist Paul Krugman today renounced his faith. Next toCitigroup executive Robert Rubin, Krugman may be the Democrats’favorite economist. He flogs George W. Bush relentlessly and never,never criticizes the Dems (maybe still dreaming of a Cabinet postsomeday).

Krugman’s columns have been deficit-obsessive–can’t leave the subjectalone. Until now, that is.

Krugman reversed his field on fiscal rectitude by arguing today thatDemocrats must now concentrate on new spending, not budget-cutting.Deficits still matter, he explained, but Americans are hurting and thepolitical situation dictates that the Democratic Congress undertakeprojects and programs that will make a real difference in people’slives.

Two cheers for Krugman. This put him in the labor-liberal camp (myselfincluded) that has been making the same point for several years. IfDemocrats stick with the Hooverite logic of Rubin–whackingentitlements and shrinking budget deficits– they will forfeit theopportunity to rebuild their party by restoring the country.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds (saith Emerson)but Krugman’s mind is as big as his ego. He will get a third cheer fromme when he comes clean on free-trade globalization. The system Krugmanhas long defended and promoted is a disaster for most workingAmericans. He’s too smart not to know it.