There has been a bit of a feud running the last few days between MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman over whether deficits and debt are a big threat to the United States, an imminent, pressing problem that must be addressed right now.
Their dispute is reflective of a bigger divide: On one side is the standard Washington wise man/centrist pundit view of the world, embodied by Scarborough and some of the people he cites, like former Joint Chiefs chair Mike Mullen and Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations. On the other are a wide variety of economists—avowed liberals like Krugman, but also the not-particularly-ideological analysts at places like the Federal Reserve, major bank economics shops, and business forecasting firms, who generally see wisdom in reducing the deficit over time but also see big risks to the economy if the effort moves to fast, and not much reason to fear an imminent debt crisis.
I always enjoy following these types of public debates. I feel that when the parties involved are honestly debating instead of pushing their side’s propaganda there is always something I can learn. This is one of those cases in my opinion.