President Obama is willing to have the federal government spend more money. But he has partly bought the story that deficit reduction has to come first. The Republicans would further gut the public sector. Contrary to the conventional view that deficit reduction would somehow "restore confidence" and increase business investment, that's not how economies work. Businesses invest when they see customers with open wallets. Though the Congressional Budget Office projects higher growth returning around 2014, it bases these projections on a "return to trend." There is no plausible story about where the higher growth will come from. If we don't get a drastic change in policy, we will be stuck in this rut for a generation or more.