I think that House, in his response to Paul Krugman, was overly gracious, to say the least. Here's what Krugman had to say. Krugman starts with this:
America, it goes without saying, has a powerful, crazy right wing. There’s nothing equivalent on the left — yes, there are individual crazy leftists, but nothing like the organized, lavishly financed madness on the right.Is the far right wing of U.S. society "crazy?" Of course not. Out of respect for the mentally ill, we shouldn't fling words like "crazy" around lightly. The far right is quite rational, and they have well-defined goals. They want easy access to all manner of dangerous weapons; they do not want extended government participation in health care; etc. Is the far right powerful? Yes and no. They have indeed been successful in promoting lax gun control. But the United States now has in place an extended health care program with government participation. Democrats control the executive branch and the Senate, though the House is of course in control of the far right wing of the Republican party, and the left seems to be losing on the Supreme Court.
Krugman goes on to say this:
Which brings me to this critical piece by Chris House. A while back House declared that both Ed Prescott and yours truly say crazy things; when asked for an example of me saying something remotely equivalent to something like Prescott’s declaration that there is no evidence that Fed policy matters, he never did answer.Why this produced such a polite reply from House is beyond me. Krugman is (groundlessly) accusing House of making claims without evidence, and stating things about Krugman's post without reading it. I read all this stuff myself, and I thought House was quite fair and careful. Here's some of what Krugman actually said in his two posts (here and here) concerning Tom Sargent's 2007 Berkeley graduation speech:
Now House takes me and Noah Smith to task for preaching to the left-wing echo chamber in what we wrote about the Tom Sargent speech that’s making the rounds. And once again I have to wonder whether he actually read what I wrote, or simply assumed that it must be over the top.
So why the sudden attention to Sargent’s 2007 speech? I think it’s fairly obvious: it’s essentially stealth anti-Keynesian propaganda, cloaked in the form of a widely respected and liked economist uttering what sound like eternal truths. But they aren’t, and the real goal here is to undermine the case for fighting unemployment in the here and now. There are virtues to that 2007 talk, but right now is no time for 2007 Sargent.That paragraph actually is crazy - it reflects paranoia. As I explain here, Sargent's speech is a very terse set of innocuous, mainstream, economic ideas, that are entirely consistent with Krugman's thinking, Mike Woodford's thinking, Ed Prescott's thinking - whatever. Anti-Keynesian propaganda, untruths, conspiracy? Nonsense.
Now, back to Krugman's last missive on the matter. This casts "progressives," and particularly Krugman's blogosphere friends - DeLong, Thoma, Konczal, and Wren-Lewis - as poor downtrodden "voices in the wilderness" fighting against a set of powerful bullies. I have no objection to an organized fight against the forces that make firearms proliferate, and the promotion of broad-based health care in the United States, for example. What I object to are bad economic ideas, and the misrepresentation of sound academic work in economics. And I think that is part of what gets propagated by at least some members of what is being characterized as a "progressive" group here. I think Mark Thoma and Simon Wren-Lewis are honest and have good intentions, but Krugman and DeLong? Not so much.
In the final paragraph of this last post, Krugman states:
I won’t ever say anything I don’t believe to be true...I don't have hard evidence for this, but I think that's a lie. Given Krugman's body of academic work, I do not believe he can honestly state that there are easy solutions to our economic problems that are at the fingertips of typical undergraduate students in economics 101. How could he think such a thing? There may be a few problems for which the answers are easy, but most of this is very difficult. To state otherwise doesn't help anyone.