Ok, I'm eleven, painful, paragraphs into Krugman's rant today over on the Times' Op. ed. Page and I found myself wondering; did PK miss the memo? He spends the first eleven paragraphs 'shooting the messenger' (i.e. S&P) for the downgrading of the nation's credit rating and not one single word about those evil Tea Partier terrorists/hostage takers. Well I should have known this Nobel laureate, cum extreme left water boy, wouldn't let me down. Finishing his, ahem, propaganda column of left leaning talking points with a masterful flurry (emphasis mine):
No, what makes America look unreliable isn't budget math, it's [sic] politics. And please, let's not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided — specifically, they're caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands.
The truth is that as far as the straight economics goes, America's long-run fiscal problems shouldn't be all that hard to fix (nah, easy as pie, tax, spend, tax spend, repeat…). It's true that an aging population and rising health care costs will, under current policies, push spending up faster than tax receipts. But the United States has far higher health costs than any other advanced country, and very low taxes by international (lets run some more jobs overseas)standards. If we could move even part way toward international norms on both these fronts, our budget problems would be solved.
So why can't we do that? Because we have a powerful political movement in this country that screamed "death panels" in the face of modest efforts to use Medicare funds more effectively, and preferred to risk financial catastrophe rather than agree to even a penny in additional revenues.
The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn't whether we'll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized.
I know Paul and his ilk are desperately trying to correlate the debt ceiling debate, and by extension the Tea Party's role in it, with the downgrading from S&P. But that makes no sense. The Tea Party caucus was trying to LOWER the nation's spending and thereby make the country's ability to re-pay our debt better in investor's eyes. If congress had taken Obama's approach and passed a 'clean' ceiling extension without corresponding cuts, does anyone truly believe S&P or the markets would be pleased?