Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Krugman v. Scarborough
They took their ongoing squabble to Charlie Rose last night and squared off in debate. Krugman said in his blog yesterday that he thought he performed as well as Obama in the first debate with Romney, not so good. He complained he wasn't prepared for Scarborough's “misleading factoids and diversionary stuff.” Come on Paul, you know from Obama's first debate that this sort of behavior is standard regressive playbook, since they usually cannot win arguments on facts and the merits. If you expected a 'fair' fight then you truly weren't prepared and got what you had coming, for one has to fight these bastards tooth and nail with their own tactics.
As to the actual debate I though Krugman did better then he thought. In the prelim on Morning Joe, where the debate began last month, he made the point that we're already doing something about Medicare via the Affordable Care Act, like pilot projects and accountable care organizations for efficiency and cost cutting, which are working and saving considerable sums. So when Scarborough makes the accusation that Obama is doing nothing about Medicare, or that the government cannot micro-manage the program that way, it is an outright lie based on ideology and not fact.
In the debate proper Scarborough starts out noting Krugman said in the 90s that it was irresponsible to run deficts. Krugman agreed, for then the economy was running well and with 'full' employment. So that was when we should have paid down the debt but did not. It is a very different time right now in the wake of the worst financial disaster since the Depression. Paying down the debt now when we can least afford it is just wrong timing, not that paying the debt is an absolutely wrong idea.
Scarborough fails to get this simple point and continues his moot point about the excess of baby boomers who have now retired and placed a burden on the healtcare system. It's true but not relevant to Krugman's argument. He agrees it is a problem and needs to be addressed, when the economy is back on its feet. To address it now will further hamper what economic recovery we have, in fact setting back what gains we've made.
Now I think Scarborough is right to challenge Krugman when the latter says we can wait 10 or more years before the debt is an issue. However Krugman cites the CBO saying the debt to GDP ratio will be flat for the next 10 years. He then rightly claimed the regressives are fixated on the deficit which Scarborough flatly denied anyone from his Party does, another outright lie. Krugman cites Bowles as but one example but the chorus is legion.
Scarborough agrees with Krugman that we need to invest (aka spend) money on infrastructure, science and tech now, for these things stimulate the economy. Krugman rightly points out that this is not the position of his regressive brethren, who fought any and all job creation and infrastructure spending Obama proposed. These are exactly the things regressives instead want to cut to the bone and/or obstruct to prevent progress.
But Scarborough notes that is only 10-12% of the budget, whereas Medicare and Medicaid is the biggest piece of the pie and needs addressing. And again, he fails to recognize that it has been addressed with successful programs in the ACA, which successes will only continue to accumulate as more aspects kick in and are implemented. If only the regressives would leave it alone, but they can't because they know it will succeed and destroy their draconian austerity politics.