PBS’s Tavis Smiley Invites Paul Krugman On to Bash Republicans

Tavis Smiley invited ultra-liberal Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on his show Monday night for a friendly chat about the American economy. Predictably, Krugman used the appearance as an opportunity to bash Republicans, and on a taxpayer-subsidized television program no less.

Krugman and Smiley both complained that the American people have not yet become “sufficiently outraged” over the budget cuts brought by sequestration. Smiley demanded to know why the outrage has not appeared and when it will come. Don’t worry, Krugman reassured him, pain from the sequester will take time to kick in. The outrage will come once people start losing essential government services.


Krugman then added this piece of insight: “And in general I think the public hasn’t really fully appreciated just how radical the Republican agenda is and that may take longer.... This is a much more fanatical Republican party than most people have yet seemed to realize.”

Perhaps, Mr. Krugman, it is only extreme leftists like you who can ever fully appreciate just how “radical” the Republican agenda is. Maybe the average American sees nothing wrong with cutting spending in order to balance the budget. After all, Krugman is one of the few public voices in this country who has been screaming that our humongous deficit doesn’t matter.

Later in the interview, Krugman boasted that Republicans had lost the 2012 presidential election, which he said was a referendum on the economic direction of the country. He added: “They lost, but partly because of the quirks of our districting system, they still retain half of one piece of the government. And they’re using that to threaten the United States with one crisis after another. It’s actually –  it’s pure hostage-taking.

Really, hostage-taking? Krugman would obviously prefer that the president tax and spend his way to economic prosperity, but it is President Obama’s massive spending that aggravated the debt crisis that Republicans are now trying to solve.

Near the end of the interview, Krugman fantasized about a decisive Democratic victory in the 2016 presidential election in order to put those pesky Republicans in line: “And we will have a presidential election again and maybe this one will finally be decisive enough that we have some return to rational politics and rational discussion.

Krugman's is the voice of a wild-eyed ideologue. This is a man who wants to beat down the opposing party so that his party can unleash whatever policies it likes on the country. What else does Krugman mean by a return to “rational politics and rational discussion”? To the liberal mind, only liberals are rational; any opposing viewpoints are crazy, radical, fanatical, you name it. The “rational” governance that Krugman desires will only drive this country deeper into the fiscal hole while sapping economic freedom.

The New York Times and PBS continue to give this man a platform from which he can trash conservatives. Shame on them, but more so on PBS, which is not responsive to ratings and market pressure in the same way that the Times is.

Below are transcripts of the relevant segments:

TAVIS SMILEY: So I take from your comment now that the American people have not been sufficiently outraged as yet. Which raises two questions: why not and when?

PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, ok, I think the answer is that the public hasn’t really seen the full impact. So far, we’ve had a lot of chipping at the edges but people haven’t really seen the impact, particularly with the sequester and all that. The real problems of essential government services being cut back hasn’t started to bite yet. That will take time. And in general I think the public hasn’t really fully appreciated just how radical the Republican agenda is and that may take longer. I think we probably have to wait several months. I think people who thought that there were going to be – there was going to be a mass uprising against the sequester the moment it kicked in were misjudging. This is a much more fanatical Republican party than most people have yet seemed to realize. So give it some time.



***

SMILEY: For those who think that issues like the debt ceiling and sequestration are really phantom issues – phantom issues masquerading as a conversation about austerity, you’d say what?

KRUGMAN: Well, no, I’d say that those are-- I mean, they are – they are crazy, right? This is no way to run any country, certainly not the greatest nation on earth. That we are-- we have a party that basically lost an election, there was a referendum on what kind of policies we are going to have. What are we going to do about the social safety net, what are we going to do about taxes on the wealthy? They lost, but partly because of the quirks of our districting system, they still retain half of one piece of the government. And they’re using that to threaten the United States with one crisis after another. It’s actually –  it’s pure hostage-taking. And this is no way to live. There is no economic reason to be having a sequester. There is no economic reason to be having a series of debt crises. This is all about truly unacceptable political behavior.

***

KRUGMAN: We need – to the extent that we can – we need to make the midterm elections a referendum on job creation, and then of course we will have a presidential election. Hopefully the economy will have recovered, but maybe not. And we will have a presidential election again and maybe this one will finally be decisive enough that we have some return to rational politics and rational discussion.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.