Well the new jobs numbers are out this Friday and the results are a paltry 88,000 new jobs in March. Private employment provided a mere 95,000 new jobs while federal cuts costing 14,000 jobs. There were offsets by slight increases in state employment, but overall government employment fell a total of 7000 jobs.
What could possibly be causing this?
Economists that actually study the economy rather than those who craft right wing talking points have been telling us that now is the worst possible time to be reducing government spending. But the entire Federal leadership has been in the spell of an austerity frenzy nonetheless. Remember the “Super Committee” and the caps.? These policies will reduce Federal spending $1.5 Trillion by 2020.
This year, stumped for a better idea, Congress began an automatic “sequester” that cuts another $1.2 Trillion starting March 1st. Jobless claims jumped immediately in March.
And there is more to come. Over time, the “sequester” will pull 750,000 jobs out of the economy according to the Congressional Budget Office estimates.
When the new jobs numbers were announced the conservative pundits were quick to pounce: “Our plan to keep cutting jobs is good for the economy. The real culprit here is the Affordable Care Act.” Yep, the ACA is to blame, so we have to repeal it – thereby pulling another pile of jobs out of the economy.
Some days I want to go episodic and stand on a street corner yelling “ARE YOU CRAZY?” (Only a few of my neighbors would notice and are unlikely to be surprised. So I’ll skip it.)
But I will beg progressive advocates to continue to ask our political leadership a simple question: “Why not reduce the deficits by growing the economy?” Why not start with President Obama’s 2013 Budget?
To the President’s credit, his recently released budget does include a $350 billion jobs program and other investments in education, job training, infrastructure, and research. But over time it cuts another trillion plus out of the public funding for many important things including Social Security, Medicare and other domestic spending. Overall there are some $900 billion in cuts. The President’s budget also increases taxes by $600 billion.
Compare this budget to what is being proposed in the U.S. House. This budget cuts nearly $6 trillion out of spending and also lowers taxes. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 66% of the cuts will affect people with low or moderate incomes.
These are the parameters for the recovery of jobs in the economy – cut either another trillion or cut another six trillion. How will either of these approaches lead to a thriving economy and jobs for the unemployed?
Every time they get anything done they do more harm. To raise the debt lid they cut a trillion. To avoid the fiscal cliff they cut another trillion. Then they sequestered. Now we are looking at a “grand bargain,” another debt lid crisis, tax reform…