As NewsBusters reported earlier, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had quite a heated discussion about the budget, debt, and the economy on PBS's Charlie Rose Monday evening.
Near its conclusion, Scarborough actually scolded Krugman for pompously behaving like a sighing Al Gore (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Paul can call it ad hominem attacks all he wants, but what we believe is what Paul once believed and that is, well, it's actually not even a matter of belief it's reality. You know, we have a generational crisis. You know, in 1933, 1934 when FDR created Social Security, life expectancy was 62. You got your first check at 65. It’s a pretty good deal. Even a small government conservative that like that type of deal. We're growing, we're living…
PAUL KRUGMAN: [Sighs] Wow.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, if you can just stop from saying wow and being childish.
KRUGMAN: I’m sorry. I've written about this so many times.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me just finish a point Paul.
KRUGMAN: I'm sorry, that was an involuntary reaction.
SCARBOROGH: You and Al Gore really need to talk about it, because, again, this is a real problem. If people don't agree with you 100 percent of the time, you talk about ad hominem attacks, you always feel like you have to take the cheap shot. So if I could just finish.
KRUGMAN: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: I’ve listened to you. The fact of the matter is we've got a generational crisis. Americans are living longer than they did in 1933, 1934. And Paul has written about this. You can see this coming, as my torts professor said, like a freight train coming out of the mist. We can see this coming a long way off.
You’ve got about three Americans working for every one person on Social Security and Medicare. Ten, fifteen years from now that's going to get closer to two people working for every one person on Social Security and Medicare. We're talking about the Eisenhower era. Back then it was 15 people working for every one person on Social Security.
The numbers just don't add up, and I think that lot of us other than Paul and the two or three people he was talking about believe that we can do two things at once. We can grow the economy in the short run, we can also do what's responsible for our children and for our grandchildren and be concerned about long-term debt.
As for the Gore reference, recall that during one of his debates with George W. Bush in 2000, the former Vice President was seen and heard repeatedly sighing as his opponent was speaking.
That didn't work out too well for Gore nor did it thirteen years later for Krugman.