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New Columnist 'War': Marcus of 'Wash Post' vs. Krugman -- as Tom DeLay Also Takes a Shot

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New Columnist 'War': Marcus of 'Wash Post' vs. Krugman -- as Tom DeLay Also Takes a Shot

Article excerpt

As we have documented in recent days, there has been quite a squabble lately at The New York Times' op-ed page over the unlikely subject of Ronald Reagan's infamous "states rights" statement back in 1980. It has pitted David Brooks and Lou Cannon on one side vs. Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert, though none of them mentioned an antagonist by name.

Now a Washington Post columnist is attacking Krugman - and naming him.

And Krugman, on his Times' blog, has quickly responded. He also quotes Tom DeLay, at a Washington party, referring to Krugman this week: "I'd like to bitch-slap him."

Today at the Post, Ruth Marcus hits Democrats, including Krugman, for taking a "dishonest" and dangerous "don't worry, be happy" turn on Social Security.

"The argument," she writes, "has two equally dishonest components. The first is to deny that Social Security faces a daunting financing problem -- one that will be much easier to fix (and less onerous for the low-income retirees that the head-in-the-sanders purport to care about) sooner rather than later. The second is to mischaracterize the arguments of those who advocate responsible action, accusing them of hyping the system's woes.

"One prominent practitioner of this misguided approach is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman." She then cites one of his columns from last week: "Inside the Beltway, doomsaying about Social Security -- declaring that the program as we know it can't survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers -- is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are. In fact, the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided."

Marcus then quotes Krugman statements from a few years back, to put his new views in bold contrast. One from 2001: "[A] decade from now the population served by those programs [Social Security and Medicare] will explode. . . . Because of those facts, merely balancing the federal budget would be a deeply irresponsible policy -- because that would leave us unprepared for the demographic deluge, with no alternative once it arrives except to raise taxes and slash benefits."

Krugman on his blog replies. Here is an excerpt.*

Wow. Early in my tenure at the NYT, I was advised that it's a bad idea to devote a column to attacking another columnist -- not just at the Times, but anywhere. Why? Because it makes you look small -- as if you have nothing better to do than snipe at other commentators, rather than trying to deal with real problems. …

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