Reinhart and Rogoff seem to be correct in one basic respect: Economic growth does seem to be lower in very-high-debt countries. But the entire debate over their paper's flaws begs the central question of cause and effect. Is growth lower because of the high debt? Or does cause-and-effect the other way around?
Suppose, just for entertainment purposes, that we wanted to have a sane, rational, and even informative discussion about what to do about our public deficits and debt -- one that doesn't automatically default to the "hair-on-fire, we're Greece!" that we too often get from the deficit reduction industry.