In the Austerity/Deficit debates I fall firmly on the Krugman side and think it is insanity to cut spending in a recession. Reducing deficits may be an admirable goal and a major part of a long term game plan, but I believe Krugman's major point is that yes, deficits probably should be reduced at some point, but THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DO IT.
There seem to be a number of others who share this viewpoint: Spend into a recession. Once the economy is working again, then deficit reduce. We are simply not at the crisis point that all the austerity mongers would have the American public believe.
Let's assume the AMs (Austerity Mongers) get their way. Everyone seems to be on their side - the entire Republican Party, The President, most Dems, the media mouthpieces, all the corporate monied powers, etc. The ADs (Austerity Deniers) seem to be a few lonely voices in the wilderness - Krugman, Reich, Yves Smith, Dean Baker, Richard Eskow, and a few others. (A hat tip to Mika Brzezinski for comparing people who do not rush to embrace austerity to climate deniers).
On with Austerity! Safety nets are cut, "tough choices" are made. Government spending is reduced, causing more unemployment in both the public and the private sector. As a result, there are even LESS disposable dollars in an already moribund economy. Foreclosures increase. All government revenue streams decrease as taxes decrease - federal, state local taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, even more government services get cut, causing even more unemployment, causing even less money, etc. etc. etc.
And then. . . . what? What is the big payoff for the AMs? Are they standing by waiting to buy off public assets? Do they want to own all the housing? Is the goal to actually destroy the concept of government period? Do we enter a new age where the Ayn Randian Supermen do whatever they want, own everything, employ everyone?
I am seriously asking this question. If those in power consciously choose to make a weak economy worse, and the futures of the lower, middle and working classes bleaker, what is the payoff that they envision? Has anyone ever asked them?
All the Very Serious People ever talk about is that if we we don't reduce the deficit right NOW at the expense of the economy in general and the immediate lives of the 99%, then our (sob!) grandchildren will suffer the crushing debt we have left them.
Do you know what my response is to that - So, what? Let the grandkids figure it out. Let them issue the platinum coin if we won't. Let them enact the Single Payer we won't. Let them overcome Citizens United since we won't. Let them clean up a corrupt financial and political and economic system that finally topples over in their lifetime since we won't.