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Forget Deficit Costs; What Are The Costs Of High Unemployment?

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A jobs bill in Congress is being hacked apart and watered down by so-called “centrists”.  What these folks really are is termed “deficit peacocks”.  No objections to the unfunded occupations of two nations can be heard from these preening birds.  They would rather cut all deficit spending, at the risk of forcing today’s bad unemployment rates even higher.

Harold Meyerson had a good op-ed the other day.  It ended with the following (emphasis my own):

Yet the deficit hawks’ peachocks’ rejoinder is essentially: So what? Government spending is out of control. We need to cut back now.

The problem with this ostensible solution is twofold. First, it conflates short-term deficits needed to stanch the recession with long-term issues of fiscal sustainability. Such thinking risks turning a short-term recession into long-term stagnation, much as Japan did in the 1990s by failing to stimulate its economy sufficiently. Second, it calculates the dollar cost of the stimulus but neglects to factor in the dollar benefit from, for instance, keeping hundreds of thousands of teachers, police and firefighters on the job and paying taxes rather than collecting unemployment insurance. Once such particulars are accounted for, a new study from the liberal Economic Policy Institute argues, the cost of the jobs created in the bill coming before the House this week is more than halved, from $75 billion to $35 billion.

Again, Republicans weren’t held to the same standard when it came to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Why not?  It wasn’t the liberal media that held them to account.  (Because the media doesn’t have a liberal bias.  Duh.)  Voter support for the invasions and occupations would have been much lower had the Cons been honest by telling them nothing was paid for today – that it was our children and grandchildren (that they’re supposedly so concerned about now that middle-class jobs and not ultra-rich tax cuts are on the table) that would suffer.

Since the U.S. didn’t experience the lost decade of the 1990s the way Japan did, we didn’t learn the lesson of their economic stagnation.  What’s worse, however, is the large number of folks who say they studied the problems and solutions of the 1930s Great Depression in preparation for their current stations in our government, controlling public policy.  They’re by and large advocating for more unemployment so their deficit credentials can look better.

Decades of runaway spending under Republican control occurred and now its the Democrats who have to tighten the country’s belt.  Don’t think that happened by accident either.  Republicans hate the programs begun under the New Deal and the Great Society.  They long ago decided to attack them from every possible direction.  If they couldn’t legislate the programs away because of the public revolt that would follow, they would bankrupt the country for their foreign policy disasters so that the programs would be starved for funds.

Way to go, deficit peacocks!  You’ll likely force the country to suffer from chronic unemployment for the remainder of this decade.  But your deficit credentials will be bright and shiny on your chests!  And it’s not like you’ll be held accountable for trashing our future anyway.  Yipee!


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