That's the background. The joy is reading the dialog between the two. This one goes to Brad, but Mankiw has his go0d days. His discussion of Healthcare is quite rational and he's strong when he points out that even if inequality is a 'winner take all' phenomena that doesn't mean one should rule out social policy to reduce it:
This analysis, however, does not tell you what to do now. Even if rising inequality is exogenous, the government could still respond to it by making the tax code more progressive. That is a coherent policy viewpoint, driven as much by political philosophy as economics, about which reasonable people can disagree. I am the first to admit that the study of economics by itself does not tell you how to balance efficiency vs equality. And it certainly does not tell you whether it is more noble to be an egalitarian or a libertarian.In the DeLong vs. Mankiw battles the two often agree on the economics but disagree on policy and values -- but DeLong is usually more careful about what he writes. Mankiw can be sloppy, as with a recent post on reproductive rates and social conservatism.
Still, Mankiw is a Republican I can live with, and I'd even respect him if I knew he didn't vote for Bush in 2004.