Morning Joe | February 18, 2013
>> past the hour. time now for the must-read opinion pages. we'll go with tom friedman in "the new york times." how to unparalyze us. he writes in part, this, our choice today is not austerity versus no austerity. that is a straw man argument offered by both extremes. it's about whether we phase in, in the least painful way possible while protecting the most vulnerable in this generation while funding opportunities for the next generation and still creating growth. we can't protect both generations in full anymore, but we must not sacrifice one for the other, favoring nursing homes over nursery schools . that's what we're on track to do.
>> and that's what i've been saying for the past couple weeks. since paul krugman came on, saying we don't have to worry about debt and medicare until 2025 , which i guess mark was writing about that over the weekend as well. you know, there are -- not a lot of people, but at least paul krugman and a small group of bloggers setting up straw men saying, you know, if you worry about debt in 2025 , then you're adopting an austerity approach. as tom friedman said, that's a straw man. you can take care of, as we say here every day and have been saying every day for five years, you can take care of long-term debt while investing in the short run and not engage managing in austerity. for some reason that, argument is too difficult for a lot of people to understand. so let them remain on twitter saying really stupid things.
>> i think it's difficult for extremists, but on both sides, those who don't have extreme points of view, i think agree with it, but then they disagree and betparalyzed in the how and don't want to get together to figure out how, to do it together. that would be the only way to politically survive such a thing, correct?
>> the problem is, you have people on the far right saying splash and burn right now when you have an economy that's actually losing track. that's not workable. on the other side, you have paul krugman and nancy pelosi who say we don't have a spending problem and we don't have to worry about the debt until 2025 . actually, you have barack obama and a lot of the senate and certainly most of the people that come on this show, in the middle, saying let's do two things at once. i know there are a lot of republicans that feel that way too. there should be a deal. let's go on and read mark's.
>> okay. here's mark in "the daily beast ." debt is a drag, a reality you may experience with every credit card bill you open. for a corporation or a government, it can be even more of a drag on economic growth and job creation. yes, at times moderate levels of government borrowing can be good medicine, helping to spur a weak economy and reduce unemployment and sharp increases in deficit spending are expected in extraordinary times during a war or in an economic crisis . but sustained, irresponsible deficit spending leading to long-term high levels of debt is damaging. admitting you have a problem is the first step. doing something about it comes next.
>> yeah, and again, there's such a consensus about what we need to do. you just have the extremes on both sides. at the end of the day , doesn't the president, most members of congress, understand that people like paul krugman are just dead wrong? you can't wait until 2025 to worry about medicare. you can't wait until 2025 to worry about long-term debt. you can't wait until 2025 to reform entitlements to help future generations of retirees.
>> they do, but what they want is more economic growth because it's a lot easier to make these decisions it we have more robust growth. that's what i think is the dirty little secret of why the president's not in a hurry right now to strike this deal. he'd rather strike it when growth is more like 3% or 4%, if we can get there.
>> so you're saying the president might be trying to drag his feet so if we're growing at 3% or 4% two years from now, that changes all the projections out 20 years.
>> it changes them dramatically to where you don't have to cut entitlements as much, don't have to raise taxes as much. as long as they can sort of cheat the difference and stagger along, they'd rather wait to make the deal.
>> of course, the only problem with that is the president himself four years ago, in february of 2009 , said entitlements were the great danger facing us.
>> and they are.
>> the president four years ago said we can't kick the can down the road anymore. the fabled fiscal austerity summit. what did he call it? the fiscal responsibility summit. before we added another $6 trillion over the past four years to the national debt . so the president's kicked the can himself down the road four years ago. remember when the president voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006 ? he talked about the staggering deficits and the staggering debt. that was six, seven years ago. so the president's now going to wait two or three more years? i mean, i think you're right. i think that's what he's doing, but how long do we push that out before we start worrying about --
>> that lack of continuity you can find on both sides, which is why they have to do it together. i don't know how else.
>> exactly. and paul wrote columns back in 2002 , 2003 worrying about the deficit when george w. bush was in the white house , saying we couldn't afford the iraq war because the deficits were just too high. we couldn't afford tax cuts because the deficits were just going to be too high.
>> different paul krugman .
>> different president, actually. different party.
>> all right. you can get all of our must-read opinion pages on our website. while you're there, check out my latest blog on tina tchen, first lady michelle obama 's chief of staff. it's part of my women of values series. she is awesome.
>> she's great.
>> full disclosure, friend of mine. speaking of powerful women, on tomorrow's show, former u.s. secretary of state madeline albright will join us onset.
>> i thought we were going to have an awkward segue because andrew ross sorkin is over there.
>> no, no. we're talking about madeline albright . there is andrew ross sorkin. he's coming up too.
>>> coming up later this morning, former senior adviser to president obama , david axelrod . keep it here on " morning joe ." i don't want any trouble. i don't want any trouble either.