Fresh from his visits in Texas, as well as vindication in Louisiana for his campaign’s delegate strategy, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was “live from New York” (sort of) on Monday, debating economics and the role of the federal government with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on the Bloomberg Television program Street Smart.
“Never before have these two pillars of economic thought faced off on live television,” trumpeted anchorwoman Trish Regan.
Krugman looked befuddled and tried to explain why government involvement in currency is inevitable. But Paul proceeded to assert that loose monetary policy caused the end of the Roman Empire. It’s not an easy worldview to engage with. Krugman, by this point, could do little more than try to suppress his laughter and insist, “I am not a defender of the economic policies of the emperor Diocletian.”
Krugman was actually guest-host of the full two-hour show, with Paul joining him for twenty minutes. The Guardian‘s Tom McCarthy, who live-blogged the entire thing, asked, “Who won the debate?”
Krugman managed more zingers. We’re giving it to him. But mostly the two sides talked past each other. Paul’s central point, that the Fed hurts Main Street by focusing on the welfare of Wall Street, is well taken. Krugman’s point that the Fed is needed to steer the economy and has done a better job overall than Congress, in any case, is also well taken.
“I debated, sort of, Ron Paul on Bloomberg,” Krugman wrote at his own blog. “I thought we might have a discussion of why the runaway inflation he and his allies keep predicting keeps not happening. But no, he insisted (if I understood him correctly) that currency debasement and price controls destroyed the Roman Empire.”
Paul finished his appearance by telling Regan he intended to remain in the Republican primary “‘until the votes are counted,” adding that things have been going “very very well” in terms of certain caucuses and delegate results.
Regan then asked him, “Will you support [Mitt Romney]?” if he is the nominee.
“Oh, it probably depends a lot on ideas, on what his platform is going to be,” Paul said. “If every single thing he has in the platform, I disagree with, it’s going to be tough.”