Pivoting off Paul Krugman and Niall Ferguson, Daniel Gross whacks my brand of fiscal conservatism:

In evaluating the relative claims of the pessimists and the optimists, you also have to evaluate the messengers. And in this instance, the Fergusonians lack credibility. H.L. Mencken tagged the Puritans as people possessed of the "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." Ferguson represents a strain of intellectual Toryism bedeviled by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be getting social insurance. (Fellow sufferers include Clive Crook, Andrew Sullivan, and George Will.) Their solution to the problem of large deficits always seems to be to cut entitlements and never to raise taxes.

Actually, my main fear is that someone somewhere is getting social insurance who does not need it and the provision of which adds to the debt, increases taxation, hurts legitimate government functions, and depresses economic growth. And my larger fear is that Medicare has been legislated but not funded. It's easy to put these entitlements on a credit card, as Bush did, and pretend they don't exist. But they do - and at some point we need to have a frank discussion about how to pay for them. I'd live with some tax increases if, and only if, they are accompanied by a real dent on entitlement spending.

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