Mary Matalin slams Paul Krugman: ‘Are you an economist or a polemicist?’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Mary Matalin, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, ripped Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman Sunday, suggesting during an exchange on ABC’s “This week with George Stephanopoulos” that he was more of a polemicist than an economist.

Krugman attacked the details of the Republicans’ latest offer to solve the fiscal cliff negotiations, saying it lacked concrete details.

“All that talk about how we need to deal with this and ask, what is the Republican Party currently proposing?” Krugman asked. “What have they actually put on the table? They 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.”

What the GOP has offered, Krugman argued, was insignificant and not detailed enough for President Barack Obama to negotiate on.

“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’?”

Matalin rebutted Krugman by naming some of the proposal’s specifics, but Krugman interrupted and downplayed her interjections. That led to a contentious back-and-forth.

MATALIN: 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 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?
KRUGMAN: There’s only — there’s only $450 billion that you can get by doing that.
MATALIN: Just make up your mind. Do you want to talk about the economy or do you want to talk about polemics?
KRUGMAN: No, this is not true.

Denying the problems with America’s entitlement programs, Matalin ultimately concluded, could lead to their eventual failure.

“We have two different ways of going forward,” she said. “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 have those congressmen, those Democrats saying that they’re — that Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are not the driver of this debt. Even the president disagrees with this.”

“What these guys should do — [Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom] Coburn is right,” she continued. “This is meaningless.”

“They should either give him 98 percent and let him eat that tax, or they should do what President Clinton proposed, which is — like just extend it for three months and let the new Congress — we have a new Congress. How is it fair that the outgoing Congress that lost is making this?”

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