Paul Krugman has a view on (one of) the reasons we are in such big trouble right now: not enough people--in the press corps, in the (honorable) think tanks, and in academia--willing to call out lies for what they are:
Austerity, Safety Nets, and Spending: The latest in the attempt to make excuses for the abject failure of austerity is the claim that European countries didn’t really practice austerity after all. This is mainly coming from the usual suspects – the people who, for example, used Census hiring to claim that Obama was presiding over a vast expansion of government employment. (What will it take for pundits to realize that if Veronique de Rugy, for example, cites a number you can pretty much assume that it’s wrong?) But I have to say that… some people who should know better are conceding the point that maybe there haven’t been big spending cuts. Yes, there have.
For the fact is that you can’t just look at spending levels to ask what is happening to spending programs. Here in the United States spending on unemployment insurance and food stamps has risen sharply, not because the welfare state has expanded, but because a lot more people are unemployed and poor. Similar effects are at work in European countries, which have stronger safety nets than we do. Also, some spending represents banking bailouts, not exactly what people have in mind when they talk about big government….
[Y]es, Ireland has done austerity – some of it on the tax side, but much of it on the spending side. The same is true in Greece, Portugal, and Spain. Don’t believe the usual suspects when they say different. In fact, don’t believe the usual suspects when they say anything at all.