…without even a breath to consider that the immediate threat is unquestionably not the budget deficit; it’s the growth, jobs, and income deficits.
Over at the NYT Economix blog.
In addition to the points in the post, one thing you see happening quite clearly in recent days is how essential a crisis mentality is to the dysfunctionistas. Once they lost their grip on the Obamacare crisis, they immediately pivoted back to the deficit crisis, which as I stress in the piece, leads only to more spending cuts.
Of course, there is no Obamacare crisis (there is, apparently, some very glitchy software in some–not all–states that needs quick fixing) and there’s definitely no near or medium term deficit crisis. But as long as obstructionists can keep everyone alarmed and in crisis mode, our ability to address the real concerns of most people remains out of reach.
Imagine instead that the politicians turned not to the budget deficit but to the jobs deficit, the infrastructure deficit, to poverty, wage stagnation, immobility and inequality. Along with a budget conference — and don’t get me wrong; I’m glad they’re talking — imagine there was an economic conference to make recommendations on what’s really hurting the country, which I assure you is not our fiscal situation. That’s taking care of itself for the short term, as is always the case after a recession (deficits go up in recessions, for obvious reasons)…
I’m surely going to jump into the budget debate myself any minute now, but before I do, I wanted to point out that this is not the debate we should be having. It’s the preferred debate of those who seek to shrink the role of government, to undermine social insurance, to reduce needed investments in public goods and human capital, and to protect the concentrated wealth of the top few percent.