Paul Krugman should make teabaggers’ heads explode today — and by ‘baggers I mean Arkanas’s Republican delegation in Congress. It’s another explanation about why, in a tenuous recovery, the government needs to put job stimulus, not debt reduction, at the forefront. We need more government spending, he writes.
Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest.
And that’s why nations with stable, responsible governments — that is, governments that are willing to impose modestly higher taxes when the situation warrants it — have historically been able to live with much higher levels of debt than today’s conventional wisdom would lead you to believe.