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“You never open your mouth until you know what the shot is”


You may remember Damon Linker from since Centrist* Comedy Classics as “we must burn down reproductive freedom in order to save it.” Today, he’s back with assertions that Matthew Yglesias and Paul Krugman are nutty leftists:

Given that both authors recently endorsed the manifestly absurd idea that the president could pay down a chunk of the nation’s debt by instructing the Treasury Department to mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin, I’m not so sure.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Is Linker arguing — in the course of all but calling Paul Krugman an idiot! — that the point of the platinum coin was to permanently pay off a part of the national debt, as opposed to increasing the money supply so that the United States wouldn’t default on its immediate obligations? (Perhaps his research into the issue began and ended with the Daily Show.) Sadly, he goes on to remove all doubt:

Entitlements will need to be means-tested and spending slashed — for the seemingly obvious reason that revenue cannot be conjured out of thin air.

1)This has nothing to do with the platinum coin debate. Nothing. The coin was not being advocated to address the long-term national debt. 2)The (undefended) idea that absolutely the only possible option in American politics is to slash entitlement spending — how fresh! (Does he invoke “means-testing” although the savings would be negligible? Of course!) For another of his errors, see here.

*”Centrist,” of course, in the “No Labels” sense of “people of all ideologies and partisan identities should come together and concede that the 20th most conservative Republican senator is right about everything.”

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  • JKTHs

    Dear lord. I didn’t want to give the dude a page view but I was too curious.

    I especially liked this line, along the lines of “we had to destroy the village in order to save it”

    Yet it is also true that the Bush tax cuts merely brought our deeper, longer-term fiscal problems to light a little sooner than economists once predicted. Social Security and especially Medicare were always going to explode the deficit down the road. And that is a problem for which liberals are at least as responsible as Republicans.

    Shit, we should just start handing out McMansion mortgages to people below the poverty line so we can get our next housing crisis over with already!

    • Cody

      Yet it is also true that the Bush tax cuts cyanide tablets merely brought our deeper, longer-term fiscal mental problems to light a little sooner than economists psychiatrists once predicted. Social Security and especially Medicare Living a normal life and especially reasonable logical skills were always going to explode the deficit ruin my life down the road. And that is a problem for which liberals are at least as responsible as Republicans.

      This looks like a fun project…

    • herr doktor bimler

      Obviously a rational taxation system would have been even worse, as it would have staved off the day of necessary spending cuts even further, perhaps indefinitely!!

    • Warren Terra

      Does no one remember back in 2001 when all those Serious People were warning that if the Surplus was used to pay down the Debt then the government would have too much power to spend according to its priorities, rather than according to the constraints of a tight budget, and we wouldn’t properly see the need to Screw The Olds?

      • Cody

        Duuude, that’s like so like, the past.

        Stop blaming Bush for your problems! It’s Obama’s fault he didn’t retroactively raise all that tax money he spent on wars.

        It’s been like 4 years, if I had been in office it would’ve taken like 3 months to totally fix America’s economy.

      • Kurzleg

        I wish I found this amusing. Instead, I find it the animating factor behind a raging, chronically inept goat fuck.

    • Mister Harvest

      Shorter: Any solution that works is incorrect, unless it is my proposed solution.

  • Jon

    There is a clause in the Constitution written in Invisible Freedom® Inc that says that all laws must make sense to “centrist” pundits or else they are unconstitutional.

    • Bill Murray

      As someone who makes Invisible Freedom Ink, I am trying to forbid the centrists pundits from buying it, but my co-workers want to make more money

  • Well, he’s a step ahead of CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller:

    The government cannot borrow money in excess of the Debt Limit – no matter how many coins it mints.

    • c u n d gulag

      Yes, but if they have enough coins, they can buy as many mints as they want.

      • Sev

        and if the Gov would stuff Mark and co with thin mints, there’d assuredly be more fresh air.

    • Cody

      Well, to be fair, Mark Knoller (least the quote) is true.

      It’s just a pretty irrelevant fact to point out.

      • Malaclypse

        The government cannot borrow money in excess of the Debt Limit – no matter how many times Mark Knoller fails basic reading.

      • Sorry, I should’ve included his earlier comment:

        Talk of a Trillion Dollar Coin is nonsense. The govt can mint a coin but cannot spend the money it represents in breach of the Debt Limit.

        • StevenAttewell

          That’s not reading comprehension fail, that’s basic thinking fail. If you are spending cash, you aren’t borrowing.

          • DrDick

            But it does nicely encapsulate conservative/”centrist” “thought processes.”

          • Yeah, I responded that the coin wouldn’t be “borrowed money,” just “money.” He didn’t answer me — I didn’t expect him to; I’m just a schlub — but if he saw it I suspect he just shook his head over all the kooks these days.

        • Cody

          Oh I wasn’t making a stink.

          I was just trying to find something redeemable…

          I assumed (apparently safely) that if I actually opened his article he would be spewing nonsense. I just chose to point out his only positives… you could get a true statement by just quoting certain parts of his article.

          • sparks

            Sort of like those positive quote clips in movie posters that came from negative reviews.

    • JKTHs

      Pro tip: If you’re a major network’s White House correspondent, do not speak up on issues on which you’re less informed than most.

      • Njorl

        From what I’ve seen, networks and newspapers put their least informed and least intelligent people into the White House press corps. I think it’s because they never really do any reporting. They just get spoon fed press releases. They also ask pointless questions at pres conferences, but every other news outlet is there when it’s done, so there is no pressure to be any better than the competition.

  • I think he’s right; Paul Krugman’s proposal to mint a trillion dollar coin, and then use it to prevent storm surges along the eastern seaboard, is irresponsible and delusional. What a loon.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Wait until he finds out that nutty left-wingers believe in a “federal reserve” that allows the federal government to print some kind of phoney-baloney “money.”

      • The Republicans say that the Federal Reserve is an agent of the New World Order, striving to enslave us all through the massive inflation we’ve witnessed over the past four years.

        The Democrats say that this Federal Reserve can just print money out of nowhere.

        So, really, both sides are the problem here.

        • somethingblue

          Fortunately it’s a problem that can be solved with a few small adjustments to Social Security and Medicare.

          Also, tax cuts.

    • StevenAttewell

      Also, I’m highly skeptical of Krugman’s proposal to use part of our gold reserves to forge this “Ash nazg.”

    • Jonas

      All very sensible people agree that a $3 trillion coin would contain so much platinum that it could be used to shore up the whole eastern seaboard.

      Or it could be used in a vending machine to buy a 3000 TeraLiter Coke. But not in New York City.

      • Jonas

        I mean the coin would be so large it could be used to shore up the whole eastern seaboard.

      • Colin Day

        Or it could be used in a vending machine to buy a 3000 TeraLiter Coke.

        Wow, that’s only 0.1 cents per liter.

  • Epicurus

    Mr. Linker has apparently never heard of the old aphorism “‘T’is better to keep one’s mouth shut, and be thought a fool…” Apparently, the Internet has removed all doubt, but that’s not stopping a lot of idiots from pushing the “Post” button. (Present company excepted, naturally!)

  • david mizner

    In his piece today Krugman pretty much prebuts Linker by pointing out that the austerians’ argument comes down to “everybody knows.” And here’s Linker: “Everyone who looks at the issue honestly admits that addressing this deeper problem will require significant tax hikes as well as deep spending cuts.”

    Well, Krugman looked at this issue, apparently dishonestly, and says:


    It’s true that right now we have a large federal budget deficit. But that deficit is mainly the result of a depressed economy — and you’re actually supposed to run deficits in a depressed economy to help support overall demand. The deficit will come down as the economy recovers: Revenue will rise while some categories of spending, such as unemployment benefits, will fall. Indeed, that’s already happening. (And similar things are happening at the state and local levels — for example, California appears to be back in budget surplus.)

    Still, will economic recovery be enough to stabilize the fiscal outlook? The answer is, pretty much.

    • Joshua

      The key to this statement, as you allude to, is the word “honestly”, it means that anyone who doesn’t agree is obviously some sort of unserious rogue, not fit for cocktail party invitations.

      The Village has hated Paul Krugman for over a decade now, for one reason and one reason only – he calls them out on their BS.

      • JKTHs

        Krugman did no chin stroking, therefore it wasn’t honest

        • Joshua

          I heard he didn’t even furrow his brow!

        • Warren Terra

          Strictly speaking, I’m sure he does chin stroking. It’s kind-of the purpose of having a beard.

          But, yeah, if you take “chin-stroking” to be a euphemism then you’re quite right.

          • Sev

            Beard? or cats?

            • rea


    • howard

      fwiw, i think we need higher revenues because i want government to be doing more, not the same plus inflation.

      of course, the first thing is to cut defense spending and reallocate the dollars, but even so, the infrastructure investment deficit is startling and worsening and will continue to reduce quality of life.

      this is not to disagree with krugman on his point – the fact is, i’m sure he’d love to increase borrowing to fund infrastructure spending and then pay it off with future higher taxes – but just to note that there is a real way to look honestly at the situation and conclude we do need higher revenues.

      • JKTHs

        Sure, but that’s different than saying “ZOMG DEFICITS BURN IT ALL DOWN!!!!” With “it” conveniently only being things that help the poor or middle class.

      • Sev

        Would be refreshing to hear someone get on the Sunday shows and say “Well, we have an investment deficit; nothing that couldn’t be fixed with an extra 20 or 30 trillion in spending though.”

        Hmmm.. that’s just 20 or 30 of them newfangled platinum nickles.

        • howard

          now you’re talking!

          i don’t have time to track any down, but i’ve seen some very scary charts about aging infrastructure across the country, and its cost in quality of life and economic inefficiency is real and growing, so yes, i’d love to see someone, anyone, speak up for the real interests of the future, which is for the present to do its job in maintaining the capital investments of the past.

          jkths, exactly, that’s why i say i’m not disagreeing with krugman, i’m making a separate point that i feel highly confident that he would agree with himself.

          • JKTHs


  • Sly

    Next thing you know, pointy-headed liberals will want to so silly shit like fund scientific studies on the nerve cells of fruit flies and bear DNA.

    • My city had an infestation of Asian long-horned beetles that destroyed like a quarter of our trees. So of course the ex-Democrat ex-mayor (“Hey, I didn’t leave the paaaahhhhty, the pahhhty left me”) who hosts a radio show on a local station that also carries Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity was OUTRAGED at the RIDICULOUSNESS of stimulus money being spent on a study of exotic insects.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Don’t forget volcano monitoring!

  • c u n d gulag

    Having read Linker, I’m reminded of that great Groucho Marx quote:

    “And East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste more like prunes than a rhubarb does.”

  • Ohferfuckssake…

    Look, people (and I’m talking to you, No Labels asshats): there are two ways to cut entitlement costs: cut (reduce, means-test, reduce eligibility for) benefits, or cut the cost of healthcare. Coincidentally, private healthcare costs are also out of control (in fact, a little more so than Medicare/Medicaid), to the point that they’re inhibiting overall economic growth. So if we don’t deal with healthcare costs overall, deficits will be the least of our worries because the economy will be wreck. Cutting benefits does not solve that problem, and most benefit-cutting schemes make it worse.

    In other words, cutting healthcare costs rather than benefits is not only the more humane approach–it’s also the only responsible way to do it.

    • BigHank53

      Silly Tom! You’re taking the approach of budgetary efficiency and public welfare maximization! Now, if you had paid attention to the first twenty minutes of Econ 101 and read a bunch of Rand, you would know how the world really works:

      The more of a resource there is, the less it’s worth.
      However, there are fixed limits to some resources, and therefore scarcity, which makes those resources worth more.
      If we manufacture more misery, its price will go down.
      But people won’t want it, so we also need to raise the price of happiness.
      Then all the rich people will be happy, and all the poors will be sad!

      Honestly, it works as well as whatever crap comes out of these pundits.

    • sparks

      B..b..but don’t we want to have a thriving healthcare sector?

      (Said in the midst of three hospitals where I live having a dick-measuring new building contest).

    • Malaclypse

      If I’m reading the Trust Fund report correctly, Medicare expenses rose 3.4% last year. I don’t remember the last time that I saw an insurance renewal where I work come in that low. This year we’re looking at an 8% rise.

      • Cody

        Mal, the insurance is going up to your company 8% because of Obamacare. Same as last year!

        This is obvious, because. You know. Cause all those regulations… and ruining America… etc. etc.

        Damn Obamacare!

        (P.S.: Seriously. Like everyone at work groaned when our insurance went up and blamed it on Obamacare, last year! AND this year!)

        • JKTHs

          National health expenditures are growing at very low levels, clearly not cause of Obamacare…it’s barely taken effect yet! How could it possibly have an effect?

          But oh yeah, those premium increases, Obamacare at work.

  • JKTHs

    *”Centrist,” of course, in the “No Labels” sense of “people of all ideologies and partisan identities should come together and concede that the 20th most conservative Republican senator is right about everything.”

    According to DW-NOMINATE for the 111th Congress, ALL HAIL JOHANNS!

  • snarkout

    The debt ceiling is apparently like marginal tax rates; I’d have thought that a basic understanding of what is a fairly simple, if slightly counterintuitive, topic* would be necessary to be taken seriously when opening your piehole on the national stage, but sadly, no.

    * “When marginal tax rates go up, your entire income isn’t taxed at the new rate, just the amount above a certain point!” and “for historical reason, Congress passes the laws that dictate how the Federal budget is spent but separately passes a different bill that authorizes the printing of the money to pay for it” strike me as close enough. Jon Stewart’s writers, get in touch!

    • John

      Borrowing money isn’t the same thing as printing money (certainly not from a legal standpoint), but otherwise, yes.

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