Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman faced off for a televised debated on fiscal policy Monday afternoon in a battle likely to appeal to policy wonks on both sides of the political spectrum.
The two staked out positions that predictably offered sharp contrasts, with Paul emphasizing his belief in "very small government" during the appearance on Bloomberg TV.
Krugman, meanwhile, described Paul as "living in the world that was 150 years ago."
“History tells us that in fact a completely unmanaged economy is subject to extreme volatility, subject to extreme downturns. I know this legend that some people like that the Great Depression was somehow caused by the government or the Federal Reserve, but that's not true. The reality is it was a market economy run amok, which happens repeatedly," the Nobel Prize-winning economist said.
That prompted Paul to one-up Krugman, saying the columnist "wants to go back 1,000 years or 2,000 years just as the Romans and the Greeks and all other countries debased their currency."
"What did the Romans do to their currency? The Byzantine Empire had a gold standard for a thousand years and they did quite well and they didn't fight wars. But the Roman empire eventually destroyed their currency. They put in wage and price controls before they diluted the metals. They inflated. They thought wealth could come by fooling the people," Paul said.
Krugman, offering a wiry smile, quipped that, "I'm not a defender of the economic policies of the Emperor Diocletion, let's make that clear."
While the two ideological foes broke little new ground, the conversation nevertheless provided a fairly substantive discussion for mid-afternoon cable news.
Paul also pledged to stay in the Republican presidential race until "all the votes are counted."
"Just look at this last week. The news is very favorable to us. We could even end up winning Iowa, ironically enough. In Minnesota, we're doing well, and Maine, Nevada and Missouri. We're doing very, very well. Some of the states we could very well win or come up very much because the delegate process is completely different than these straw votes. We're pleased ... It's another month or so until they count all the delegates and we find out where we stand," Paul said.
The Texas congressman added that his support for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney "depends" on what his platform would end up being.
"If I disagree with every single thing in his platform, it's going to be tough. If it's 100 percent opposite on everything I have said on civil liberties, on war issues, on spending cuts, on monetary policy, you know, what can I do?" Paul said. “We have millions of people now supporting our campaign, and millions that haven't been heard from because they're independents and Democrats that are unhappy with Obama. To support somebody that might have 100 percent opposite views of mine would be difficult. Hopefully [Romney] sticks to his guns about not raising taxes."