Combine a too-optimistic administration with a Republican Party that is sabotaging the economy as a campaign strategy and what do you get? You get today's terrible jobs report. First, though, remember that the economy lost 818,000 jobs in the last month of the Bush presidency. The stimulus at least turned that around. But then we started hearing more about "green shoots" and "pivots" to austerity and less about the urgent need for government action to get people working again.
From Bob Borosage's statement this morning on today's terrible jobs report,
"As Great Britain has shown, austerity in the midst of recession is self-destructive. This is leech economics. Like the Medieval practice of applying leeches to convalescing patients, it causes pain without benefit. It adds to human suffering, driving the economy into recession which ends adding to deficits, and worsening the ratio of debt to GDP. It is time for government to act."
It is long past time for government action to get people working again.
The solution to the jobs problem is obvious and in front of our faces -- and has been for a long time. There are millions of jobs that need doing. Financing the work that needs to be done is officially at the lowest cost in history. The payoff would be enormous. We, the People urgently, urgently, urgently need our government to take direct action to put people to work right now:
Infrastructure: The nation's infrastructure is f*#&ing falling down. It is five years since the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed. A national push to modernize our infrastructure would employ millions (especially if we require that the supplies and steel be made in America!), while cutting the safety-net spending, saving hundreds of thousands of houses from foreclosure, restoring income tax revenues, and it would f*#&ing pay for itself by making our economy more competitive.
Energy retrofitting: The nation is wasting energy, literally letting it leak out through drafty doors and windows. A national effort to retrofit our buildings and homes to be energy-efficient would employ millions (especially if we require that the supplies be made in America!)! And, again, the payoff would be enormous as our newly energy-efficient economy competes in the world. (Not to mention -- again -- the savings on safety-net programs and the increased tax revenues...)
Buy American in government purchases: If we start implementing Buy-American policies in the states and increasing them in federal procurement, we would employ more millions as factories reopen. These policies are allowed in our trade agreements, and our trading "partners" sure aren't buying from us!
These are just a few of the ways the country could end this depression right now. Stop fooling around, and that means you in the administration, too. Right now demand that Congress pass a massive government infrastructure program and a massive energy retrofitting program and strengthen federal Buy American procurement provisions and ask states to implement Buy American in their procurement.
The Great Recession is more than four years old -- and counting. Yet, as Paul Krugman points out in this powerful volley, "Nations rich in resources, talent, and knowledge -- all the ingredients for prosperity and a decent standard of living for all -- remain in a state of intense pain."
How bad have things gotten? How did we get stuck in what now can only be called a depression?And above all, how do we free ourselves? Krugman pursues these questions with his characteristic lucidity and insight. He has a powerful message for anyone who has suffered over these past four years -- a quick, strong recovery is just one step away, if our leaders can find the "intellectual clarity and political will" to end this depression now.
Paul Krugman will be speaking at the "Take Back the American Dream" conference June 18-20 in D.C.
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