Republican strategist Mary Matalin on Sunday asked New York Times columnist Paul Krugman an absolutely marvelous question.
As Krugman spewed typical Democrat talking points about the fiscal cliff negotiations on ABC's This Week, Matalin interjected, "Are you an economist or a polemicist? Just make up your mind" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: I think it's actually -- it's not just numbers, because we have -- we have a basic difference in outlook. And I think part of the problem is the Republicans are unable to actually make concrete proposals. If you actually look, all that talk we just heard about, you know, deficits and China and Greece, which is all nonsense, but all that talk about how we need to deal with this and ask, what is the Republican Party currently proposing? What have they actually put on the table? They've put down some numbers, but what specifics?
And if you look at all of things that they've concretely mentioned, all of their actual proposed spending cuts, on, you know, raising the Medicare age, cutting the price index for Social Security, it's about $300 billion...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Higher Medicare premiums on the wealthy.
KRUGMAN: Yeah, it's tiny. They're -- what they've actually put on the table is almost nothing. All of the rest is just big talk. So how is the president supposed to negotiate with people who say, "Here's my demands. By the way, I can't give you any specifics. Just make me happy"?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, that is the point the White House keeps making, Mary, that they can't give the Republicans what they don't ask for.
MARY MATALIN: That's completely mendacious, as was that. The Republicans have offered in theory and in specificity, for instance, to raise revenues, capping various deductions, not eliminating, but capping them, which the CBO says would raise $1.7 trillion over 10 years. They've been very specific...
KRUGMAN: Actually, that -- that -- that doesn't work.
MATALIN: You know, we have...
KRUGMAN: That kills charitable deductions. It hits the middle class hard. If you do it -- if you do it right -- we've done this, right...
MATALIN: Are you an economist or a polemicist? Just make up your mind.
KRUGMAN: There's only -- there's only $450 billion that you can get by doing that.
MATALIN: Do you want to talk about economy or do you want to talk about polemics?
KRUGMAN: No, this is not true.
MATALIN: We have two different ways of going forward. We will not have Medicare, we will not have Social Security. You have senior Democrat Dick Durbin saying Social Security is not costing us a penny. You had those congressmen, those Democrats saying that they're -- that Medicare, Medicare and Social Security are not the driver of this debt. Even the president disagrees with this.
This is not the first time Matalin has humiliated Krugman on national television.
On This Week back in October, Matalin told the Nobel Prize-winning economist, "You're hardly credible on calling somebody else a liar."