California’s deficits are gone, and Republicans are furious. The national deficit problem is largely solved, too, and Republicans just don’t know what to do! Of course what we need to do is invest in modernizing our infrastructure, which will put people back to work and we will end up with a … wait for it … modernized, energy-efficient, 21st century infrastructure that will boost our economy.
Learn From California
In California Republicans caused the deficit with tax cuts and restrictions on democracy that prevented citizens from fixing problems. They blocked every attempt to help the economy and the state budgets, demanding only cuts — and more tax cuts for billionaires and corporations. But California’s citizens finally got them out of the way, elected Jerry Brown (again), elected a supermajority of Democrats, passed tax increases, and the budget is balanced and will be in surplus soon. Republicans can’t stand it. They have no more excuse to scream “crisis!” and call for cuts in the things California’s citizens do for each other and the state’s economy. Now alifornia is moving forward, and even building a high-speed rail system.
If this sounds strangely familiar there’s a national lesson to learn here.
Deficit Problem Solved
Paul Krugman, writing in The Dwindling Deficit,
[the deficit is] a problem that is already, to a large degree, solved.
The deficit will come down as the economy recovers: Revenue will rise while some categories of spending, such as unemployment benefits, will fall. Indeed, that’s already happening. (And similar things are happening at the state and local levels — for example, California appears to be back in budget surplus.)
[. . .] The deficit scolds dominating policy debate will, of course, fiercely resist any attempt to downgrade their favorite issue. They love living in an atmosphere of fiscal crisis: It lets them stroke their chins and sound serious, and it also provides an excuse for slashing social programs, which often seems to be their real objective.
But neither the current deficit nor projected future spending deserve to be anywhere near the top of our political agenda. It’s time to focus on other stuff — like the still-depressed state of the economy and the still-terrible problem of long-term unemployment.
Start Fixing Our Real Problems
The astonishingly brilliant Richard Eskow, in Time to Declare Victory Over the Deficit – And Start Fixing Our Real Problems,
That deficit problem we keep hearing about is gone. When it comes to spending cuts, it’s time to follow the advice a general offered when we were mired in Vietnam: Declare victory and get out.
We had a deficit problem, once, although it was never as urgent or as important as our jobs crisis. Nor was it as important as the wealth inequity that’s destroying the middle class, killing the hopes of a better life for lower-income Americans and stifling growth. Wealth inequity hasn’t been this high since the Great Depression.
Not just that, but cuts now will just make deficits worse, not better.
In fact, other cuts in this battered economy would make the economy worse – and would make deficits go up. Don’t take our word for it. The world’s leading institutional deficit hawk, the International Monetary Fund, reached the same conclusion.
So let’s start fixing our real problems. Let’s invest in modernizing our infrastructure – using American-made steel and concrete and electrical systems and equipment and rail cars and … Let’s invest in energy efficiency and solar and wind technologies and education and courts and medical facilities and …
Let’s move on now, the crisis-after-crisis-after-crisis shock-doctrine strategy to persuade us to cut the things We, the People do to make our lives better has failed. The billionaires and their corporations had a good run for a while, but now We, the People are ready to get back in the driver’s seat.
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