MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s hour-long televised debate, broadcast on Monday’s “The Charlie Rose Show,” largely lived up to its billing as a one-night, all-out war of words.
Scarborough focused on the threats posed by booming entitlement spending, while Krugman argued that unemployment issues are the bigger short-term concern. But the debaters got testy on more than one occasion, with Krugman accusing Scarborough of engaging in ad hominem attacks for citing his works from the 1990s and 2000s.
Perhaps the event’s most uncomfortable moment occurred at the tail end, when Krugman said “wow” while Scarborough was delivering his closing remarks.
“You know what? If you could just stop from saying, ‘Wow,’ and let me just finish a point, Paul,” Scarborough said. “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 shots. So if I could just finish. I’ve listened to you.”
“The fact of the matter is we’ve got a generational crisis,” Scarborough said. “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.”
Krugman’s closing remarks acknowledged that deficits are a long-term problem, but emphasized the need for more stimulus spending and solving the unemployment crisis in the near-term.
“You’re mushing together two completely different issues,” Krugman said. “The crucial issue right now is: Are we going to keep on cutting spending and derailing this recovery, or are we going to at least try to spend more, provide the extra stimulus — bad word — but the extra stimulus this economy needs? Nobody disagrees that if we looked at the year 2025, there is going to be a problem about how we’re going to pay for this government.”
Krugman, in a blog post, later downplayed his efforts in the debate, saying he was tired and acknowledging that he had a “Denver moment.”