Yesterday I noted that the highest ranking Senator on the White House deficit commission, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, heeded the recent warning from 300 economists to put jobs before deficit reduction when he told Bloomberg that we shouldn’t embark on deficit reduction until the unemployment rate goes down.
But I also mentioned that Sen. Durbin’s reported belief about the threshold when it would be safe to pursue deficit reduction — when unemployment dips below 9% — might not be shared by those 300 economists.
Turns out that Sen. Durbin’s view was not reported accurately by Bloomberg. A senior aide to the Senator informed me that he has repeatedly said — during internal deficit commission deliberations — that deficit reduction should wait until unemployment sinks below 6%.
I still don’t know what the general consensus on that point would be among the 300 economists who issued the warning last week. But I think it’s safe to assume most would be far more comfortable turning to deficit reduction at 5.9% unemployment than 8.9% unemployment.
More importantly, none of us know what the other members of the White House deficit commission believe, and the question should be put to them.
But it is reassuring to know that someone on the commission is pushing for a timetable that is both fiscally responsible and economically sane.