Why have we forgotten about the unemployed?:
The Forgotten Millions, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Let’s get one thing straight: America is not facing a fiscal crisis. It is, however, still very much experiencing a job crisis.
It’s easy to get confused about the ... “fiscal cliff.” Indeed, one recent poll suggests that a large plurality of the public believes that the budget deficit will go up if we go off that cliff.
In fact, of course, it’s just the opposite: The danger is that the deficit will come down too much, too fast. ... Yet there is a whole industry built around the promotion of deficit panic. Lavishly funded corporate groups keep hyping the danger of government debt and the urgency of deficit reduction now now now — except that these same groups are suddenly warning against too much deficit reduction. No wonder the public is confused.
Meanwhile, there is almost no organized pressure to deal with the terrible thing that is actually happening right now — namely, mass unemployment. Yes, we’ve made progress... But long-term unemployment remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression: as of October, 4.9 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months, and 3.6 million had been out of work for more than a year. ...
So what can be done? The panic over the fiscal cliff ... shows that even the deficit scolds are closet Keynesians. That is, they believe that right now spending cuts and tax hikes would destroy jobs; it’s impossible to make that claim while denying that temporary spending increases and tax cuts would create jobs. Yes, our still-depressed economy needs more fiscal stimulus.
And, to his credit, President Obama did include a modest amount of stimulus in his initial budget offer... Unfortunately, almost nobody expects those stimulus plans to be included in whatever deal is eventually reached.
So why aren’t we helping the unemployed? It’s not because we can’t afford it. ... Nor, I think, is it really ideology. Even Republicans, when opposing cuts in defense spending, immediately start talking about how such cuts would destroy jobs...
No, in the end it’s hard to avoid concluding that it’s about class. Influential people in Washington aren’t worried about losing their jobs; by and large they don’t even know anyone who’s unemployed... — and, of course, the unemployed don’t hire lobbyists or make big campaign contributions.
So the unemployment crisis goes on and on, even though we have both the knowledge and the means to solve it. It’s a vast tragedy — and it’s also an outrage.