Joe Scarborough’s televised debate with Paul Krugman and especially Scarborough’s follow-up in Politico is a home run in terms of unintentional comedy. Krugman, as regular readers of his will know, thinks the Beltway conventional wisdom massively overstates the present-day significance of long-term debt and deficit worries. Scarborough refutes this by saying that everyone he has regularly on his show — from Admiral Mike Mullen to veteran diplomat Richard Haas to rich banker Steve Rattner even including his own more liberal co-host Mika Brzezinski — thinks Krugman is wrong.
And it’s totally true that by media rules, this is a consensus. Scarborough is a Republican who’s reasonable enough to play host on a network with a mostly liberal audience. Brzezinski is a Democrat. Rattner is a Democrat and a businessman who’s been tapped for public service. Haas is a moderate Republican. Mullen is, like most successful flag officers, a very prestigious guy in a country where the military is the most widely respected organization and most elites haven’t served in uniform.
But of course this is simply what Krugman is saying, namely that there’s a very broad and deep consensus among political elites that debt and deficits are a big deal, but it’s not grounded in any particular economic insight or theory.