Paul Krugman: the most influential US columnist?

Where do Maureen Dowd, Malcolm Gladwell and Karl Rove rank?

Paul Krugman is the most influential columnist in the US. That's according to the website Mediaite, which ranks columnists according to their print circulation and their online presence.

The dominance of the Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist, as well as the presence of Krugman's NYT colleague Maureen Dowd (4), Malcolm Gladwell (5) and Arianna Huffington (12) on the list, is likely to reinforce conservative fears of a liberal stranglehold on the media. But the appearance of Michelle Malkin at 2 and Karl Rove at 14 offers some consolation for the right.

Christopher Hitchens (6) is the highest-ranked British columnist on the list, though he became a US citizen in 2007.

Krugman's success will largely be viewed as a byproduct of the financial crisis but it also reflects his rare ability to twin an engaging prose style with consistent economic judgement. Ian McEwan once remarked of Will Hutton, "he breathes human sense back into economics". One could say the same of Krugman.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.