Liberal economist Paul Krugman, frequently known for his scathing attacks on Republicans, accused Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) of peddling “non-facts” to his face on ABC’s “This Week.” The attack followed a scathing back and forth between Johnson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz over the state of negotiations regarding entitlement spending between the White House and Republicans in Congress, in which Wasserman-Schultz accused Republicans of being disorganized and misinformed, and Ron Johnson accused Democrats of bargaining in bad faith, and ignoring the budget’s many problems.
It was at this point that Krugman jumped in. “Let’s start with the facts. And we’ve run aground right there. We cannot agree,” Krugman laughed.
“We’ve got to agree on the facts,” Johnson retorted.
“But your facts are false,” Krugman snapped. “The Social Security thing. Social Security is — it has a designated revenue base, it has a trust fund based on the designated revenue base. You can’t change the rules midstream.”
“Here’s the problem with the trust fund,” Johnson interjected. “The federal government owns U.S. Treasury Bonds. It’s the same thing as if you have $20, you spend it, and by the way, that money’s spent, it’s gone. You write yourself a note for $20, stick it in your pocket and say ‘I’ve got twenty bucks.’ No, you don’t, you have a note you have to sell on the open market. The trust fund is a fiction. It doesn’t — it has no value to the federal government.”
“If you think of Social Security as not being part of the federal government, then there’s no such thing as a Social Security problem, it’s just part of the general budget.”
Crosstalk ensued for a few seconds before Krugman triumphantly finished, “It’s important to realize the facts that are being brought out are, in fact, non-facts and how do we go from there?”
“They’re absolute facts!” Johnson snapped.
“As Pat Moynihan said, ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts,’” Washington Post columnist George Will cut in.
Watch the extremely uncomfortable exchange below, via Mediaite: