The unemployment numbers released today are terrible, and they show that budget austerity is crippling the recovery. After the worst recession since the Great Depression, the federal government made an effort to stimulate growth and to help state and local governments prevent layoffs, but after unrelenting conservative pressure, those recovery efforts were abandoned, and Republicans and the President turned to premature deficit reduction. These numbers show dramatically that this is not the time for additional budget cuts.
As a result of the end of federal stimulus support, state and local government employment declined in June, with more layoffs certain to come at all levels of government. But the surprising weakness in private sector job growth demonstrates that our country can’t expect private growth when the states are firing teachers, police and other public servants. Business won’t invest until they see customers ready to buy their products.
Our elected leaders in Washington need to start focusing on jobs now. It’s not that hard: We need a spending plan to jumpstart job growth. First, do no harm: Postpone deficit cuts until the recovery revives, don’t cut Social Security cost-of-living increases, and help the states stop laying off teachers, cops and firefighters.
Second, let’s get serious about passing and implementing job-creating programs, as Democrats in Congress have suggested: Investment in public infrastructure is one example that would have both short-term and long-term benefits for Americans.
In order to re-build the American Dream we need to do better than this. We cannot pursue additional austerity when it is clearly sabotaging the economy. Americans want the chance to work hard to get ahead. And a full-employment economy is the best way to reduce deficits. Our leaders must stop meeting behind closed doors and must start working on implementing a jobs plan, today.