CBS Gives Krugman Platform to Bash Austerity, Call For More Spending

On Monday, CBS This Morning gave leftist New York Times columnist Paul Krugman a platform to promote his new book and to spout his usual prescription of massive government spending. Krugman also bashed Mitt Romney: "He's going to make Herbert Hoover look good by comparison." Anchor Gayle King boosted her guest by twice citing President Obama's praise for the author as "one of the smartest economic reporters."

Krugman briefly acknowledged the "long-term budget problem," but quickly added that "now is not the time to be slashing....Now is the time to be doing public works, to be rehiring those school teachers, to get this economy moving again." He also ripped the austerity measures taken by several European countries: "You look at what's happening in Europe and...we just learned that austerity is not the answer...the big problem now is not to have a new stimulus, but simply to reverse those cuts at the state level."

King teased the segment with the columnist by gushing at his side, "I would like to introduce you to the man that President Barack Obama says is one of the smartest economic reporters in the country. That would be you, Paul Krugman." Co-anchor Charlie Rose continued in this vein at the beginning of the segment as he referenced the dedication in his guest's book: "He [Krugman] is holding nothing back in his latest book. The title of the book is called, 'End This Depression Now!' The dedication reads, 'To the unemployed who deserve better.'...First of all, speak to the dedication. I mean, you think that American policymakers have failed the unemployed and have failed the economy."

Krugman almost immediately launched into his call for spending in his reply:

Charlie Rose, CBS News Anchor; Gayle King, CBS News Anchor; & Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist | NewsBusters.orgKRUGMAN: We have. This is- there's enormous human damage being done to this economy and it's all unnecessary. We have the knowledge. We have the tools. If we could get our politicians to move and do the right thing, we could be out of this very fast.

ROSE: Okay. The right thing is?

KRUGMAN: The right thing is, actually, to spend more. Right now, you know, we have a long-term budget problem, but now is not the time to be slashing. Now is not the time to be laying off school teachers. Now is the time to be doing public works, to be rehiring those school teachers, to get this economy moving again.

ROSE: And the alternative is austerity- is saying we have to attack the debt first- the debt and deficit- and you are now arguing that if you look at what's happened in Europe, they have tried that and it has failed and made things worse.

KRUGMAN: Yes. You look at European countries that have done the austerity; they have mass unemployment- you know, 25 percent now in Spain- and they're not even making much progress on the deficit because the economy shrinks, revenues shrink, the long-term growth prospects fall off. So, no- austerity later; austerity when the economy has recovered....

The morning show did put up graphics showing the massive rise in the debt, as well as the 8.2 percent unemployment rate, but the anchor didn't bring up these details during the segment.

Later in the interview, the writer called for even more "quantitative easing" from the Federal Reserve. King soon followed with her second reference to Obama's label from "Rolling Stone":

ROSE: What would you want the Fed to do now?

KRUGMAN: First of all, more of the stuff that it's done some of, but not enough of- of the quantitative easing. But it also needs to say, look, we're not that concerned about inflation. If- tell us, you know, five percent, six percent is a problem; but three percent, four percent is not, and we're willing- in fact, would like to see a little bit of inflation to get this economy moving- change the expectations, help us along in getting out of this slump.

KING: But you say that it could take seven years if we keep going the way we're going....And if we follow your advice, it would take-

KRUGMAN: Eighteen months, two years.

KING: So why aren't people listening to you, Paul Krugman? I love that President Obama, in 'Rolling Stone'- did you see that he called you one of the smartest economic reporters? Did you see that?

KRUGMAN: Yeah- I'm sorry to say, one of? (King laughs) No, but look, there's a lot of practices to overcome-

ROSE: Very good line, Paul.

KRUGMAN: And- no, Obama is a smart guy, and I think- I actually know that a lot of people around him actually share my views- not perhaps 100 percent- but they face political opposition. But also, they face a lack of boldness- a lack of audacity, you might say....And what really we need here is audacity.

Rose followed up by asking about the economic proposals of Obama's presumptive rival, Mitt Romney. The New York Times columnist answered with his Hoover citation:

ROSE: Do you believe Romney has a better idea?

KRUGMAN: No. I mean, what Romney is saying- let's do exactly what we did under the Bush administration, and this time, hope for different results. He's saying, let's do exactly what they're doing in Ireland, which has led to 15 percent unemployment and 30 percent youth unemployment, and that will lead to great results here. Now, Romney is- I mean, he's going to make Herbert Hoover look good by comparison.

Earlier in the interview, Krugman dropped a cultural reference, which sailed right over Charlie Rose's head:


ROSE: But here's the other point you make: Ben Bernanke is the man who understood the Depression; understood what happened to Japan; and he's now in charge of the Fed and he's a fellow former professor at Princeton. And you're now saying what? That he's wrong, wrong, wrong?

KRUGMAN: Well, funny thing is, I can quote Ben Bernanke as a professor about what the Japanese should have been doing when they did a dress rehearsal for our crisis and it applies perfectly to Ben Bernanke right now. Now, I think there's mixture. He's under political pressure from the right; he's probably been somewhat taken over-

ROSE: I thought the Fed was immune from political pressure.

KRUGMAN: Yeah, right, sure. (King laughs) But I'll say a little bit: he's been assimilated by the Borg; that is, you know, the Fed has an institute-

ROSE: The blog?

KRUGMAN: The Borg; the Borg, as on Star Trek. The Fed has an institutional culture that makes it reluctant to be adventurous....

The full transcript of Charlie Rose and Gayle King's interview of Paul Krugman, which aired at the bottom of the 8 am Eastern hour of Monday's CBS This Morning, can be found at MRC.org.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center