I will leave it to Dean Baker and Paul Krugman, who get paid to do this, to tear into the errors and absurdities of this latest bit of agitprop from the New York Times on the phantom menace of fiscal deficits. What I would like to raise is the issue of institutional responsibility. You would think that the Times might have learned from its earlier foray into phantom WMD’s that playing the lead public role in a campaign of deception can have devastating consequences, particularly if the end product is a policy that implodes on its own mythology. This is what happened in Iraq: blatant falsehoods published as fact in the news outlet that feeds stories to the rest of the media (now that they have downsized their own news-gathering forces) came back to haunt them when, instead of WMD’s, soldiers were met with IED’s.
Let’s hope this campaign to reproduce 1937 is the inspiration of a rump group in the financial elite with little influence on actual policy. If deficit-cutting becomes the new imperative in Washington, however, and the economy duly melts, we will have to suffer through more public contrition on the part of the Times’ editorial brass.