After (semi) apologizing to Nate Silver for doubting his spot-on statistical insights into the 2012 presidential election, Joe Scarborough's gut instinct is now telling him to go after another guy who knows his data: Paul Krugman. Scarborough has a hunch that the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist has things totally wrong.
The host of MSNBC's Morning Joe restrained himself during Monday morning's interview with Krugman. Scarborough has been trying not to cut people off as much, so he spends most of this back-and-forth stewing, with his arms folded and his best serious face on.
Anyone who regularly reads Krugman's columns will know his talking points without even watching the clips. Washington's panic over the deficit is unnecessary, because spending money is exactly what you want the federal government to do during a recession. All the talk of cutting entitlements and reducing debt won't kickstart the economy as so many politicians promise. Austerity isn't the answer—stimulus is. All fairly routine Krugman points, culled from his Nobel Prize-winning work as a Princeton and London School of Economics professor. But something tells Scarborough that it's all a bunch of bull, and he said so in a Politico column posted the afternoon after the taping. Krugman must be wrong, Scarborough argues, because just look at all these (non-economist) people who disagree with him:
[Council on Foreign Relations president Richard] Haass, [former Joint Chief chairman Michael] Mullen and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles all believe that entitlements and debt are the most pressing challenges we face as a country over the next few decades.
You can add my liberal co-host, Mika Brzezinski, to that group.
The title of Scarborough's complaint, "Paul Krugman vs. the world," suggests that the academic's stray from the consensus amongst respectable economists about government debt and spending. Scarborough even says it's "fascinating" how Krugman managed to win a Nobel Prize despite having an outlook that "runs counter to almost all mainstream economists." But, as others have pointed out, Krugman's views are fairly typical amongst Keynesians. Scarborough may have two charts in his Krugman take-down post (an improvement from his totally baseless assumption that Nate Silver's math doesn't apply to the real world), but economic commentators aren't convinced. Slate's Matthew Yglesias calls Scarborough's argument a "home run in terms of unintentional comedy." Krugman himself brushed off the criticism this morning, posting this lone paragraph on his blog:
Scarborough seems upset, and under the delusion that my more or less standard Keynesian views are way off on the fringe. Also, that the Swedish thingie is given by Norwegian royalty.