Last week, I was surprised by my students’ apparent belief that debt and deficit spending was high during the first Obama administration and that it was the first thing they thought of when asked about the effects of government spending.
By way of explanation, Greg Sargent of The Plum Line takes on the current Joe Scarborough vs. Krugman (and the world of economists) debate via the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.
The relentless bipartisan focus on the deficit convinces voters to be worried about it, which in turn leads lawmakers to spend still more time talking about it and less time talking about the economy, a phenomenon that is self-reinforcing. This is exacerbated by some commentators and news orgs, who continue to treat the deficit scolds with a great deal of deference, while marginalizing the opinion that we should prioritize boosting the economy and job creation as a means of getting the country’s fiscal problems under control over time without savage spending cuts that will hurt a lot of people. Back in 2011 one study actually confirmed that newspapers were spending far more time talking about the deficit than the economy — at a time when the recovery was in serious peril.