Krugman, Herbert, and the business-as-usual political establishment they speak for are unable to process the information that there is a limit to the debt burden even so fabulously rich a country as the United States can bear without disastrous consequences, and that we are getting perilously close to that limit.
Gordon assumes that his readers already believe what they need to believe to enjoy his column – whose main purposes seem to be 1) to ridicule liberals and 2) to muse about “Henry Graham,” a character in a “long-forgotten movie.”
Gordon doesn’t address Krugman’s well-known position – in short, that the government should be running a huge deficit, as huge as necessary, especially as there are no indications (bond prices, inflation, etc.) that it should be a primary concern during a time of high unemployment, excess productive capacity, and depressed demand. As tellingly, Gordon completely ignores Herbert’s lead paragraphs:
We can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threaten to blow Iran off the face of the planet. We can conduct a nonstop campaign of drone and helicopter attacks in Pakistan and run a network of secret prisons around the world. We are the mightiest nation mankind has ever seen.
But we can’t seem to build a railroad tunnel to carry commuters between New Jersey and New York.
So, Herbert thinks that, if we can pay, and pay, and pay for Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond, surely we can pay for something much less expensive that actually is needed. On the other hand, if, as JSG apparently believes, we cannot pay for projects that would provide needed jobs, directly stimulate depressed economies in other ways, and allow future development, then when is anyone else over at Contentions going to put 2 and 2 together? When are they going to start warning their readers about the past, present, and future costs of military expeditions in foreign lands within a budgetary context so “perilous” that combined state and federal financing of a mere tunnel project threatens “disastrous consequences”?
My guess is “not soon,” for, if placed in such a context, which is implicit in JSG’s critique, certain neoconservative projects, the entire neoconservative analysis and worldview, might start looking like one of those luxuries that the “befuddled” Henry Graham can no longer put on his regular tab. In other words, if Krugman is wrong and JSG is right, then maybe Henry Graham and leading liberal suspects aren’t the only characters “unable to process the information that there is a limit.”
But who wants to know? Better to switch on TCM – though you won’t find A New Leaf.