The worrying rise of reckless liberal pundits

Sure, many conservatives are engaging in juvenile brinksmanship. But Paul Krugman and Co. are succumbing to shockingly magical thinking

Paul Krugman: Nobel laureate and trillion-dollar coin advocate.
(Image credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The White House likes to portray the president as the adult in the room — especially when the room is being used to negotiate with House Republicans over the federal budget. The good news for Obama and the Democrats is that the GOP, repeatedly driven toward reckless brinksmanship by the ideological fervor of the party's base, appears determined to confirm the impression. But that doesn't mean that progressives have earned the right to boast of their own fiscal sobriety and good sense. On the contrary, leading liberals have recently begun to defend positions that seem designed to prove that Democrats can be even more fiscally irresponsible than their Republican counterparts.

Consider the case of Paul Krugman — arguably the country's most influential liberal pundit. In several New York Times columns over the past few years, and most recently this past Monday, Krugman has mocked the "Very Serious People" in Washington who express concern about the enormous deficits (in the range of $1 trillion a year) the federal government is currently running. Yes, the nation faces long-term budget challenges, Krugman concedes, but with interest rates at or near historic lows and unemployment still high, policymakers should ignore the fiscal Chicken Littles and keep right on spending.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Damon Linker

Damon Linker is a senior correspondent at He is also a former contributing editor at The New Republic and the author of The Theocons and The Religious Test.