Friday, November 19, 2010

Krugman vs. Simpson

The remarks of (former) Senator Alan Simpson and (former) White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles made about Paul Krugman are getting a lot of play. Both men were on NPR, pushing their plan, as co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Quoting Senator Simpson....

”I’d love to meet Paul Krugman, because, i think, sometimes he just looks like he’s lost his marbles,...”

It just goes downhill from there. I thought you might appreciate some context (that I haven’t seen anywhere else.) This is a title from Krugman’s blog -- 3 months ago.

Fire Alan Simpson

”When you have a commission dedicated to the common good, and the co-chair dismisses Social Security as a “milk cow with 310 million tits,” you either have to get rid of him or admit that you’re completely, um, cowed by the right wing, that IOKIYAR rules completely.” (You’ll have to read the blog if you don’t know the acronym.)

And another thing while I’m here, Senator Simpson and Mr. Bowles both make a common prelude when trying to refute Professor Krugman...

“Well, Paul Krugman is a smart guy with a Noble Prize but...”

It’s almost like a twitch. You hear it over and over again. At the risk of overstating it -- lots of people have Noble Prizes. Not many people have a column in The New York Times. The Noble Prize doesn’t intimidate them nearly as much as the column -- and the fact that he has such a record of being right. The Times has almost 1 million subscribers and has 18 million visitors a month to it’s web site. Thousands upon thousands of people read Krugman’s blog every day. Everybody gets to “take their shot” at him. Every day. For over 10 years. And yet, he still stands.

If he is never right about another thing in his life, he was right about the Bush Administration and stood up -- forcefully -- when few dared. (You’re either with us or against us. Don’t you love freedom too? Are you a “real” American? Don’t you support the troops?) That alone makes him worthy of respect.

As far as Senator Simpson, he’s been a grumpy old man longer than I have. And that’s saying something. Besides, what else is he going to say when a Nobel Prize winner tells him he has “errors of fact.”?

Zombies Have Already Killed The Deficit Commission

”OK, the immediate problem is the statements of Alan Simpson, the commission’s co-chairman. And what got reporters’ attention was the combination of incredible insensitivity – the “lesser people”??? — and flat errors of fact.”

”Specifically, Simpson has resurrected the old nonsense about how Social Security will be bankrupt as soon as payroll tax revenues fall short of benefit payments, never mind the quarter century of surpluses that came first.

We went through all this at length back in 2005, but let me do this yet again.”

”So what does it mean that the co-chair of the commission is resurrecting this zombie lie? It means that at even the most basic level of discussion, either (a) he isn’t willing to deal in good faith or (b) the zombies have eaten his brain. And in either case, there’s no point going on with this farce.”

And that was 6 months ago.

Don Brown
November 19, 2010

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