The President’s remarks on the awful jobs report showed no sign that there was a rethink in the idea that contracting fiscal policy will expand the economy, even though that’s what the data shows. This jobs report shows that state and local governments, which have to “run their budgets like families” and engage in austerity during down economic times, have cut 180,000 jobs relative to one year ago. These are teacher, firefighter and police jobs. Their budget cuts did not give “confidence” to local businesses that things were in decent fiscal shape and that they should hire to capitalize that. No, the localities had less money to spend on jobs in the public sector, so they – fired a bunch of people in the public sector. That’s the simplest, and most obvious, explanation.
But the President isn’t going that route. He made a few nods toward job creation programs that Congress should approve now. He said that we should invest in infrastructure. He said that we should “streamline out patent process.” He said that Congress should approve three NAFTA-style free trade deals, which EPI says will cost American jobs, so I don’t get why that’s in there. He said that Congress should extend the payroll tax cut for another year.
But none of this was the focus of his remarks. The focus was that we should cut our way to prosperity.
Also to put our economy on a stronger and sounder footing for the future, we’ve got to rein in our deficits and get the government to live within its means, while still making the investments that help put people to work right now and make us more competitive in the future. As I mentioned, we’ve had some good meetings. We had a good meeting here yesterday with leaders of both parties in Congress. And while real differences remain, we agreed to work through the weekend and meet back here on Sunday.
The sooner we get this done, the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit, the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty that they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and hire and will provide more confidence to the rest of the world as well, so that they are committed to investing in America.
Now, the American people sent us here to do the right thing not for party, but for country. So we’re going to work together to get things done on their behalf.
Yes, only partisans think that cutting Social Security and Medicare and massively contracting fiscal policy in the middle of a jobs crisis is a bad idea. Stupid partisans.
You cannot win the future by destroying the present. And the “markets” will not be buoyed by the confidence of slashing spending to suddenly hire people. That’s out of step with all of the data on the subject. The difference between former NEC chair Laura Tyson and current NEC chair Gene Sperling on this point is striking. I would say that the difference is that one of the two is out of government, and the other is in it. If the positions were reversed, my guess is the opinions would be as well.
Kevin Drum said it best today, in a manner shrill enough for the occasion.
We are ruled by charlatans and cowards. Our economy is in the tank, we know what to do about it, and we’re just not going to do it. The charlatans prefer instead to stand by and let people suffer because that’s politically useful, while the cowards let them get away with it because it’s politically risky to fight back.
You can argue with who the charlatans and who the cowards are in this scenario, but I don’t think you can argue with the broad point. We’re screwed.