Paul Krugman fired back at Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) after the influential Republican laughed off the New York Times columnist’s criticisms by saying, “I’ve always figured I’ve got three certainties in my life: Death, taxes and attacks from Paul Krugman.”
In an exclusive interview following the release of his new book End This Depression Now!, Krugman told TPM, “That’s not a substantive remark. I’ve never attacked him just for nothing in particular. I’ve gone after his arithmetic and said it doesn’t add up at all. And he has never offered a response to that. All he does is make scary noises about the deficit, with mood music, with organ music in the background about how ominous it is, and then propose a plan that would in fact increase the deficit.”
“So if he wants to joke about it, that’s fine, that’s his right. But he has not actually offered any response at all to my criticisms,” added Krugman, a relentless critic of both Ryan and the journalists who lionize him as a deficit hawk.
A spokesman for Ryan declined to comment.
The Princeton professor and Nobel Prize-winning economist argued that the Ryan budget’s deficit-reduction capacity amounts to “empty boasts” in its promise to offset large tax cuts by closing unspecified loopholes. Compounding that problem, the economist noted, is how Ryan has vowed to oppose new taxes on capital gains.
“So he’s just claiming that he can find trillions of dollars from no specified source and in fact has ruled out the only place you could find it,” Krugman said.
Because his criticisms have failed to penetrate the establishment media, Krugman has taken to attacking reporters and pundits who portray the GOP congressman as a scrupulous budget fix-it man.
“I have to admit it’s pretty amazing how robust the Ryanology continues to be, despite the fact that every time he produces an allegedly wonkish budget document it turns out to be totally full of holes,” Krugman said. “He’s become this beloved symbol of the alleged responsible wing of the Republican Party that no one wants to go after him…. I had thought that in some of the recent reporting people were getting a little bit more realistic about what was going on with him, but maybe not.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.