Thus, the average American is somewhat worried about budget deficits, which is no surprise given the constant barrage of deficit scare stories in the news media, but the wealthy, by a large majority, regard deficits as the most important problem we face. And how should the budget deficit be brought down? The wealthy favor cutting federal spending on health care and Social Security — that is, “entitlements” — while the public at large actually wants to see spending on those programs rise.
You get the idea: The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.
Hmm... "a facade of academic rigor". What the top 1% prefers, I suspect, is---like all of us---to thrive. And I suspect as well that they understand that a debt-ridden, deficit-spending nation does not a thriving economy make --- as, ironically, rigorous academic analyses suggest. The most recent being the work of University of Massachusetts Amherst's finest; finding that nations tend to experience measurable slowdowns in economic growth (albeit not to the extent suggested in the study they counter) once they exceed a 90% debt-to-GDP ratio.
A more plausible take would be that the upper 1 percent's concerns over entitlement spending has to do with their awareness of the simple fact that those programs consume better than 50% (and growing) of the Federal budget, and project unfunded liabilities that multiple consecutive years of the most robust rate of economic growth may not compensate for. Not to mention the fact that they understand what it takes to sustain financial success and---right or wrong---can't fathom how a nation, even ours, can spend 40% more than it takes in each year and sustain financial success. Thus, rather than presume, as does Krugman, that successful individuals would---out of self-destructive greed---lobby government to directly harm their customers, we can more easily, and more intelligently, conclude that rich folks, concerned, yes, primarily with their own continued success, see trouble ahead if we don't begin to rein in entitlement spending.