Krugman is right that helicopter money isn’t fundamentally innovative economically. The argument here, however, is not economic; it’s institutional. Instead of Congress being in charge of distributing resources according to its erratic whims and halting ability to compromise, the Fed would do it. The Fed would watch aggregate demand closely (indeed, it already does this) and make quick, proactive decisions on whether to send everyone money, and how much, without having to wait for Congress to deliberate over a stimulus bill. Free Money Medic
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The third policy option is known as nominal gross domestic product targeting, the major proponent of which is the economist Scott Sumner. The idea is all about self-fulfilling expectations. Recall that the central bank owns the printing press, so it can create arbitrary quantities of dollars. By making a pre-commitment to keep the economy on a particular spending trajectory, self-fulfilling collapses in spending would not happen. Something similar to this policy seems to have kept Australia and Israel out of the Great Recession. But in order to sustain such a policy, the Fed might have to intervene in the economy quite frequently, and then the distributional consequences could be serious. Quantitative easing, for example, helps push up asset prices (the stock market has regained all the ground lost since 2009 and then some), which disproportionately benefits the wealthy. Free Money Machine