Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Deficit Hawk Drums Drown Out Cries of Jobless

After seeing yesterday's opinion piece at CNN from David Frum (See this blog post), I wasn't quite as surprised to see another opinion piece today on the lack of jobs. Of course, today's (Tuesday, April 26) from Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post probably won't get much play because Robinson tends to be liberal and we all know liberals aren't considered Very Serious People, so can easily be ignored. Nevertheless, Robinson does have a platform at the Washington Post, so he might get read and even acknowledged as having some right behind his words:

What is it about the word “jobs” that our nation’s leaders fail to understand? How has the most painful economic crisis in decades somehow escaped their notice? Why do they ignore the issues that Americans care most desperately about?

Listening to the debate in Washington, you’d think the nation was absorbed by the compelling saga of deficit reduction. You’d get the impression that in households across America, parents put their children to bed and then stay up half the night sifting through piles of think-tank reports on the kitchen table, trying to calculate whether there will be enough in the Social Security trust fund to pay benefits beyond 2037.

And you’d be wrong. Those parents are looking at a pile of bills on the kitchen table, trying to decide which ones have to be paid now and which can slide. The question isn’t how to manage health care or retirement costs two decades from now. It’s how the family can make it to the end of the month.
Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson will most likely continue to be drowned out by the drumbeat of the deficit hawks. Looking through the various news sites today, I found a couple of articles promoting deficit hawkery though in a rather subtle way. First up is this from USA Today:
Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation’s history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

A record 18.3% of the nation’s total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.

The income data show how fragile and government-dependent the recovery is after a recession that officially ended in June 2009.


Accounting for 80% of safety-net spending in 2010: Social Security, Medicare (health insurance for seniors), Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) and unemployment insurance.
The whole thrust of that article is the "drain on the government resources" theme - as I say, deficit hawkery without being quite as explicit as usual.

CNN takes a slightly different tack in this article on "tax credits."
Today, there are dozens of tax credits, deductions and exclusions that cost federal coffers more than $1 trillion a year. That's a little more than a third of all annual federal spending.
Sounds relatively innocuous doesn't it? Yes it does. Until they start to list out the "Top 5" tax credits, then it becomes a rather standard assault on the middle class. And what are those "Top 5?"
1. Health care and insurance
2. Retirement savings
3. Mortgage interest
4. Capital gains and dividends
5. Earned income tax credit
Notice how all but one of those tax credits are geared towards and most affect your average working people? Nothing about all the corporate tax credits. I'm a bit too lazy to go do all the research for this but I'd make a WAG that the reason the corporate tax credits aren't showing is because they are all broken down to the lowest level possible, most likely by industry. Far easier to keep things looking smaller to say "Oil Industry Tax Credits" or "Technology Tax Credits" rather than just to say "Corporate Tax Credits" - makes them look far smaller than the dastardly Earned Income Tax Credit or Mortgage Interest deduction.

USA Today also had a jobs related cheerleader article here on jobs for 2011 college grads. The article starts with the good news but at least immediately follows with the bad news:
This year’s college graduates are finding a better job market than last year’s grads.

Employers plan to hire 19.3% more recent graduates this year, says a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The association surveyed 174 schools from February through April.

The increase in open positions means employers have half as many applicants per job now than at this time last year: 21.1 applicants this year vs. 40.5 in 2010.
Wow! Only 21 applicants for every job! Any bets on how many of these new college grads wind up back at McDonald's? Maybe not as many as McDonald's was saying originally if this blog post is any indication of the reality. Oops.

And because I can:

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