Friday, March 7, 2014

The Deficit is Shameful, Alright: Shamefully Small

So, the national deficit is at its lowest point in six years - down nearly half a Billion dollars - and at the same time millions of people out of work for more than a year are living on literally nothing.

This is not a coincidence.

Because when federal budget decisions are being made by vicious morons and plutocratic cock-suckers, you get a response to economic crisis that is exactly the opposite of what is needed.

The despicable "family budget" lie promulgated by the austerity hysterics is too stupid to address - the federal government's fiscal responsibilities are nothing like a family's - but if you insist on a kindergarten-level analogy, here it is:

You're going broke because you are paying far more in rent than you can afford. But if you bought a house even with nothing down, your monthly payments would be far less than your current rent, and you'd be building up equity instead of throwing money away on rent.

But because of that rent eating up your income, you don't have the cash to buy a house outright. You have to borrow the money. 

You borrowing to buy a house puts you in long-term debt, sure, but it gives you two big immediate financial boosts: your monthly housing costs drop substantially, and you now have an investment that grows in value with every mortgage payment. Borrowing money is thus the responsible thing to do.

Just as the federal government borrowing money and adding to the deficit in order to hire millions of unemployed people and pour trillions of dollars into a moribund economy is the responsible thing to do.

Lowering the deficit by cutting spending while 12 million people are out of work is not just grossly irresponsible, it is catastrophically fatal to economic growth.

And lowering the deficit by cutting spending on the very social safety net programs - unemployment insurance and food stamps - that are the only thing keeping unemployed people and their families alive  is a crime against humanity.

While President Obama's new budget proposal refrains from yet more snatching the food from the mouths of poor children, the elderly and the disabled, and actually proposes increased spending on infrastructure, it falls far short of the $10 Trillion in borrowing - at current negative interest rates - needed to reverse the effects of the last six years of economic depression.

And what would we spend $10 trillion dollars on?  Here's an idea:

Ryan Cooper begins his piece in the new Washington Monthly magazine with a straightforward pitch:
How would you like to get $2,000 in free money today, fresh off the government printing presses? And what if I told you it wouldn’t just be a nice windfall for you and your friends and family, but that we’d do it for all Americans on an ongoing basis, and that doing so would solve our crippling problem of mass unemployment?
Because what matters in an economy is that money gets spent. Who spends it and what they spend it on may matter politically, but from a purely economic perspective, spending money is what grows an economy in recession. Saving and hoarding money is what kills an economy in recession.

(Government spending causes inflation only in expanding economies - you know, the ones with lots of jobs and very few unemployed people.  Remember those?) 

Right now, austerity and Wall Street worship are funneling trillions of dollars to the obscenely wealthy, who ship it to overseas tax havens where it does the American economy active harm by not being in circulation.

The just solution is to take those stolen trillions away from the obscenely wealthy and give it back to the workers from whom it was stolen.

Short of that, however, the solution is to add $10 trillion (interest-free!) to the deficit and boost the economy by giving the money to people who will spend it right away, right here at home.

As Ed Kilgore wrote:
... since the current budget is a political document more than it is a fiscal blueprint, it would be nice if the administration stopped bragging about its budget-battle defeats and just made the case for appropriately robust investments. Someday, it might help Democrats win a few more (elections.)

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