A New View of Austerity?


When it comes to things that bear repeating, thankfully there are bloggers to do the job. After all, if the point doesn’t communicate the first few times, only saturation will suffice. What? Okay, not exactly, but still, there are some things that shouldn’t require such repetition. To wit, Steve Benen:

When a nation tries to recover from an economic downturn, there are a variety of things policymakers have no control over. After the Great Recessions, for example, neither the White House nor Congress could control the Eurozone crisis, a natural disaster in Japan, or unrest in the Middle East.

It’s an unpredictable world with inter-connected economies and volatility often lurking just out of sight. But this realizations only reinforces a lesson congressional Republicans have forgotten: U.S. policymakers should, at a minimum, not make matters worse.

Consider, for example, what unemployment would be if government weren’t trying to create jobs and lay off public-sector workers at the same time.

He’s actually pointing to Phil Izzo’s blog post for The Wall Street Journal, which makes a point that ought to be familiar to all by now:

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. No other sector comes close to those job losses over the same period. Construction is in second worst place, but its 225,000 cuts are less than a third of the government reductions. To be sure, construction and other sectors performed worse during the depths of the recession, but no area has had a worse recovery.

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

What’s that? Well, it’s one of those weird issues that stays in the background no matter how important it actually is, regardless of how often it is actually thrust into the spotlight.

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Some things bear repeating


House Majority Leader Eric CantorSometimes a notion bears repeating.

For instance, Steve Benen, last week:

We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem.

While Mr. Benen was responding to a quote from Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)—”And, you know, we’ve got a spending problem. Everybody knows it.”—on Meet the Press, the sentiment that the United States suffers from a “spending problem” is not exclusive to the House Majority Leader. You can find it throughout the Republican Party, and nearly everywhere you turn Beltway media punditry. But one can just as easily argue that we have a revenue problem, as in, not enough revenue. After all, one of the questions that confounds my conservative neighbors is what they think would happen if we destroy education funding, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, regulations for labor, food, and drug safety, and other programs that arguably work to augment the quality of life in the United States.

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