What Matters to Most of Us, Doesn’t Matter to Washington

If you listen to Americans, most want their politicians to focus on improving the economy and creating jobs.  But if you listen to their politicians, the economy and creating jobs are less important than dealing with the Federal budget deficit/debt.

More than 25 million people are either unemployed, can only find part-time work, or have given up looking for work altogether.   In a March CBS News poll, nine out of ten Americans called the budget deficit a serious problem, but more than half of all Americans thought jobs were more important than the budget deficit.

The importance Americans give to the economy and jobs seems to hold up over time.  In a Gallup poll released two days ago, about six in ten Americans named the economy and jobs as the most important problems facing the country today.  Less than two in ten Americans named the Federal budget deficit/debt as the most important problem.

If the U.S. had a representative government at the Federal level, at least one of the parties would most likely be bent on fixing the economy.  Both of them though are bent on fixing the deficit/debt — which appears to be more a priority of Wall Street than of Main Street.

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17 thoughts on “What Matters to Most of Us, Doesn’t Matter to Washington

  1. I should probably brush up on the whole federal budget/deficit problem. As I see it, though, with so many Americans out of work and drawing on state and federal unemployment benefits it would be in the best interest of the economy and the deficit if job creation and unemployment were addressed. Instead of drawing on the government (i.e. taxpayers) those of us who are unemployed would be paying in tax. Not only that but it would increase spending giving a boost to the economy and increase sales tax revenue for states. It doesn’t seem to me that the budget/deficit can even be adequately addressed until the economy/jobs are.

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    • I think more is going on than we might be led to believe, D’Ma. This doesn’t seem to be just about the deficit. It also seems to be about dismantling the social safety net. What you say is reasonable, but no one is listening to reason. There is another agenda afoot.

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    • In an odd way you are right about the problem being the government and it goes for both our countries. We both have conservatives in power while the people’s needs cry for a liberal government.
      In the U.S. people have voted against their best interest or have abstained in large numbers thus leaving the way wide open for the Tea Partyers.
      In Canada, our electoral system giving more weight to rural counties than urban ones the conservatives got a majority with 40% of the popular vote. The nation goes the way the rurals want. When the farm goes well they vote conservative, when the going is bad, they bring back the liberals. The cities can not outweigh that trend since, in some counties, one rural voter is matched against 7 t0 15 urban ones.

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  2. Wall Street is doing fine. If you’d asked in 2008 what the chances were, given the state of the economy and how low the DOW had plunged, that Wall Street would be bumping up over 12,500 by 2011, you’d be given low odds. Wall Street may weave like a drunk driver, but it’s a drunk that’s moving on down the road. The rest of us are still back there in the ditch they drove us into.

    I do understand that there’s certainty on the right, bought and paid for, that Wall Street will right the US economy if enough of their demands are met and there’s some suspicion/hope on the left that the right knows something we don’t, but we’ve long had all the proof we need. Wall Street and America have gone their separate ways.

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  3. Not a whole lot Congress can do without being able to pay for it.

    Congress still has limited powers, and the most powerful of their legislative permissions under the Constitution is the power to tax and spend. A large amount of public policy legislation is tax-and-spend: Congress can withhold money from or tax things, or alternately give money with strings attached, to try to influence policy and effect change.

    A budget problem is a massive practical limitation on Congress’s power to legislate meaningfully.

    Saying that Congress should be creating jobs and fixing the economy instead of fixing the defecit and national debt is like saying you want to spend Saturday afternoon driving to the beach, not fixing the car.

    And that’s not even getting into the ways that the defecit affects the economy, which it most certainly does.

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    • Interesting comments, Kullervo, but I don’t think the analogy of a broken car is applicable. What the government is about to do is slash spending during a depression. That can have only one effect on demand — to further decrease it. But when demand decreases, jobs are typically lost since workers are no longer needed to fill demand. So, what the government is about to do is likely, so far as I can see, to increase unemployment. That’s a fur distance from fixing the economy.

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  4. which appears to be more a priority of Wall Street than of Main Street.

    Love that line. You’re right. Though one could argue that fixing Wall Street will produce more jobs.

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  5. If the federal government is going to offer nice tax deals to large companies, it should predicate them on job creation at home. Also, as Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed out in his filibuster in 2010, infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) won’t repair itself. If it’s under government jurisdiction, then the government has to find tax money to maintain and repair it. It only makes sense for the government to create the necessary jobs and collect taxes from those income-earning workers. Again, using a carrot and stick approach to get industry to start hiring for those jobs could be part of it. Depending on the project, there could be instances where it would be more efficient and/or a better deal money-wise for the government to employee people directly. Some of the federal budget has to be available to state and local government to do their share of infrastructure repair.

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