The Problem is Jobs, Not Debt

Conservatives are using the economic crisis to push through their favorite tricks. The latest trick is a commission to cut the budget and cut the debt without the inconvenience of the democratic process. It’s a strange distraction from the real problem.

The real problem is jobs. We need more of them. We need them right away. And we need real jobs — rebuilding our infrastructure, producing things right here in America, and powering a clean energy economy.

The false problem is debt. Yes, we are in a budget crunch and we need to be fiscally responsible in the long run. But no, it’s not an urgent problem and not even such an overwhelming problem at that. Today’s Financial Times carries an article about deficits in Europe. It has a handy chart showing public debt as a percent of GDP for 2010 (estimates). I took the liberty of pasting in America’s lastest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The US is in a better fiscal position than most every European nation:

Debt_to_GDP.jpg

A clear look at the problem screams out the solution. Put people to work. The private economy can’t do it — because it’s in a self-perpetuating downturn. Consumers won’t spend because they don’t have money. Business won’t invest or grow because nobody will buy. We need the government to step in. That’s why we created it. This is what it’s for.

Build the bridge. Lay the track for high speed rail. And yes, borrow the money to do it. As the president says, “The single most important thing we could do right now for deficit reduction is to spark strong economic growth.” And we get to keep the bridge.

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