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Krugman rips Romney for 'flat-out untruths,' gives Obama pass on 'minor fudges'

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Aug. 10, 2009: Paul Krugman speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP)

A fib is a fib is a fib. 

Unless you're President Obama. 

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, speaking on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, ripped into Mitt Romney for telling "flat-out untruths" at last week's debate. 

But when asked about Obama's on-stage misstatements, The New York Times columnist called them just "minor fudges." 

The discrepancy drew a pronounced "Ugh" from Republican strategist Mary Matalin, a panel member who later told Krugman: "You are hardly credible on calling somebody else a liar." 

Krugman's initial gripe with Romney was that he said during the debate in Denver that his health care proposal would cover people with pre-existing conditions. 

Romney's plan partially does that -- what Romney didn't mention on stage was that a person would have to have continuous health coverage in order to keep coverage in the face of a pre-existing condition. 

"The press just doesn't know how to handle flat-out untruths," Krugman complained. 

Fact-checkers actually did flag that Romney statement post-debate, but they also flagged several Obama statements. Among them was Obama's dubious claim that his budget plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. That number includes some accounting tricks, including counting $1 trillion in already agreed-upon cuts. 

ABC's Jonathan Karl pointed out to Krugman that "Obama also was loose with the facts." 

"They were minor fudges," Krugman said. 

"He said he had a $4 trillion plan to cut the deficit.  ... He said health care premiums were rising at the slowest rate in 50 years -- neither of those was true," Karl said. 

Krugman again asserted "those are minor compared with" Romney's statements.