Joe Scarborough dishonestly cited Princeton economist Alan Blinder to bolster his campaign to undermine Nobel laureate Paul Krugman and accuse Democrats of being anti-math.
Scarborough has been engaged in a rhetorical assault on Krugman ever since the New York Times columnist appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe and called on lawmakers to focus on economic growth and job creation in the short-term, pivoting to long-term deficits only after the economy is stronger. Scarborough has spent weeks mocking Krugman, comparing him to National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre and calling Krugman a deficit denier.
In a February 15 Politico column, Scarborough turned his attention to “bloggers,” who he said were “mixing up the most basic concepts of economics” in order to back Krugman. Scarborough took particular offense at what he called “a fabulously misleading Business Insider post that claimed to list 11 economists who shared Krugman's debt-denying views.” Scarbough continued:
Never mind the fact that most of the links provided actually undercut Krugman's reckless position and supported my view that the most pressing fiscal crisis is not next year's deficit but next decade's debt.
Blinder, a former Fed vice chairman and Princeton economics professor, warned of “truly horrific problems” caused by long-term debt, health care costs and interest on the debt. Paul Krugman's Princeton colleague even shared my conclusion that the coming Medicare crisis will be so great that Democrats won't be able to tax their way out of it.
Far from supporting Mr. Krugman's extreme position, the link to Professor Blinder's New Yorker article undercuts his Princeton colleague's exaggerated “In-the-end-we'll-all-be-dead” approach to U.S. long-term debt.
It is intellectually dishonest for Scarborough to cite Blinder as a fellow traveler.
Here's what Blinder wrote in the Atlantic piece that Business Insider cited (Scarborough incorrectly sourced the column to The New Yorker):
In plain English, the costs of everything on which the federal government spends money except health care and interest -- and that includes Social Security, defense, you name it -- are projected to fall over time as a share of GDP. The message is clear: America doesn't have a generalized spending problem that requires severe cuts across the board. We have, instead, a massive problem of exploding health care costs.
This is the analysis Scarborough claims totally backs him on long-term debt.
But here's what Scarborough had to say earlier this week taking on what he calls the “debt deniers” with their supposed inability to grasp the seriousness of the country's spending problem:
I think we found like 3 or 4 people in America who think we don't have a spending problem, and they're just writing in circles. But as I said yesterday, Josh, it's funny watching this, because, Josh, I said, you got Republicans who don't believe in science, you got some liberals that don't believe in math. Both ways, not good.
But most Americans understand, when you run trillion-dollar deficits for four years, you probably have a spending problem.
Scarborough's problem is that one of the people in America who says we don't have a spending problem is Alan Blinder.