Krugman's Selective Outrage: Goes After Paul and Cantor on 'Deficit,' Ignores Landrieu's Debt Delusions

One thing which is arguably worse for one's health than Obamacare is the act of reading a Paul Krugman column at the New York Times.

In his latest equivalent of a DNC press release on Thursday published in Friday's print edition, Krugman lambasted GOP Senator Rand Paul and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as "politicians who gleefully add to the misinformation" the general public allegedly has about "the deficit" (more on that shortly). But "somehow," he a delusional statement made by Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu to a veteran earlier this month, as recounted by Army Lieutenant Colonel Andre Dean Benton (bolds are mine; note the weak headline more than likely chosen by the paper and not Benton):


Landrieu's response to veteran awkward

I attended the Bossier City VFW Post 5951 discussion of veterans’ issues with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu recently at 1315 North Gate Road, where she responded to a wide range of issues facing our American veterans from her talking points, as well as from questions fielded from the audience.

An older veteran stood up toward the middle of the meeting and expressed to her his deep sadness and concern with the massive and constantly growing American debt ($16.9 trillion today and $5.6 trillion in 2000) and the crippling cost to taxpayers to pay for the staggering interest on that debt.

I felt he was in sync with and spoke on behalf of about 85 percent of the nation in his comments, reflecting a voice that is expressed nationally on both sides of the political aisle.

I was stunned to hear my Louisiana senator defend the massive U.S. debt saying that the gentleman was wrong in his assertion that the U.S. debt was growing year after year. She assured him that the United States did not have an increasing national debt. She then proceeded to tell all of us that for the past six to seven years the federal government had been continuously driving the federal debt down and reducing it, NOT increasing it.

She then went on to explain the federal costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as “non-negotiable mandates by law that cannot be changed” and explained that only a small portion of the federal budget was in discretionary spending, where she was working with others in the Senate to further reduce our nation’s debt.

I was dumbfounded.

I wish I could say that I'm equally as dumbfounded, but I'm not.

An earlier version of the Shreveport Times web page carried Landrieu's statements in direct quotes, as seen at posts concerning it at Patterico and Breitbart.

I was only able to find the successor article to which I linked by using a passage from within the original in a Google News search. Readers can verify that the Shreveport Times made the original page inaccessible by clicking here.

As seen above, the successor article does NOT contain Landrieu's statement in quotes (“That is not true, sir! We do not have an increasing national debt! For the past six to seven years we have been continuously driving that debt down and reducing it and it is NOT increasing”).

So what happened? Did the Times pressure the Lt. Colonel to revise his submission? Or did Benton decide that he couldn't exactly recall what he originally presented as a direct quote? Or did the Times arbitrarily decide to revise Benton's submission?

In a discussion I had with Times representatives, I was told that what most likely happened is that Benton's original submission got posted without being fully vetted, and that it was revised to reflect his paraphrased recollection because he wasn't sure that what he presented as direct quotes really were. If I learn anything substantively different, I will update.

In my view, the Times should have told its readers that what is now posted slightly differs from the related item several days ago, and should be forwarding readers to the revised submission instead of creating the impression among those attempting to find it from other sites that it was pulled.

(Aside: Since I saw the original several days ago, I now have two articles counted against the ten the Times allows its non-subscribing readers for looking at essentially the same item.)

Getting back to Krugman, here are Paul's and Cantor's grievous sins:

Cantor, the third-ranking Republican in the House, declared on Fox News that we have a “growing deficit,” while Senator Rand Paul told Bloomberg Businessweek that we’re running “a trillion-dollar deficit every year.”

OMG, call in the PC Police.

Cantor clearly meant to say "debt" instead of "deficit." It's a sloppy and unfortunate mistake way too many politicians of both parties make. Of course the national debt has been growing at a record pace since Obama became president, and its growth has only slowed a bit, and far from sufficiently, in recent months.

Paul is right about the fact that we HAVE run trillion-dollar deficits "every (full fiscal) year" since Obama took office (proof here and here). While it is true that the country is on track to have a deficit lower than $1 trillion for the year ended September 30, 2013, we're 45 days away from year-end. Saying "we're" instead of "we have" in the circumstances is hardly an imprisonable offense — except in the Krugman fever swamp.

Paul's and Cantor's statements obviously pale in comparison to Landrieu's whoppers, quoted or not, that the U.S. national debt is not increasing, and that it has been coming down steadily for the past six to seven years. Landrieu's astonishing assertions were out there at least four full days before Krugman submitted his column. Yet he said not a word about them, instead ranting about "outright falsehoods" delivered by the two Republicans.

This gets to a final point. Krugman is outraged that most of the American people don't understand that the annual budget deficit is coming down by a record amount — despite Democrats hammering it as a low-information voter talking point — and that they think the "deficit" is growing.

First of all, those polled make the same mistake as the politicians, confusing "debt" with "deficit." The crucial point is that the American people correctly know that the national debt continues to increase, even if they don't hang the correct word on it.

Second, the anticipated deficit at the end of this year ($670 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office) is still miles higher than any deficit the federal government ever incurred before Barack Obama took office in 2009, the largest of which was the $455 billion seen in fiscal 2008. "Somehow," Krugman "forgot" to inform his readers of that crucial fact.

Who is really the disinformation disseminator, Paul?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.