[O]nce again, authoritative-sounding figures insist that our problems are "structural," that they can’t be fixed quickly. We must focus on the long run, such people say, believing that they are being responsible. But the reality is that they’re being deeply irresponsible.
Earlier this week, Brooks was chasing Krugman:
[We, the authoritative-sounding figures] believe the core problems are structural, not cyclical.
Now that Krugman has counterthrusted, Brooks has the weekend to ponder his next offensive--which will read astonishingly similar to his last offensive--which will propel another Krugman counterthrust ... and so our long national nightmare will proceed.
These two should stop their public squabbling. It's not that Brooks looks a bit silly arguing economics with a Nobel Prize-winning economist. After all, Milton Friedman won a Nobel Prize in economics, which means we can all hold out hope for one. It is, rather, that both columnists are forever lambasting grubby politicians for their failure to communicate and compromise and find a way forward, and yet there they sit, truce-less, whacking away at each other with essentially the same argumentative weapons each week -- even though they're not that far apart.
Do we have short-term ills? Of course we do; and this, Brooks would not deny. Do we have long-term ills? Again, yep--and Krugman, yep. Both understand that globalization is at least a factor in domestic economic change, that educational needs alter in format from era to era, that some sort of fundamental tax reform looms unavoidably, and so on. And both understand stimulus, even though one is a tireless, whooping evangelist for it, while the other is, you might say, a High Episcopalian.
The point is, Brooks wouldn't shut down the government over the attempted passage of Obama's latest jobs bill, and Krugman wouldn't shut down the government, period. In that, there is harmony, and the sort of accord we once had in national politics. So boys, why don't you show them--that is, remind them--how it's done.