If You Care About the Deficit, You Should Care About Jobs

Michael Stephens | October 6, 2011

The prevailing anxieties of elite opinion are focused relentlessly on the deficit and debt, with sporadic bouts of indigestion reserved for the slump in jobs.  This is a complete reversal of what ought to be the case.  But let’s say you really can’t get over the idea that there’s no major short-term economic problem currently being caused by high deficits.  Well then, if you are such a person, you ought to be deeply concerned that the economy is operating below potential.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen recently requested an estimate from the CBO (hat tip TPM) regarding what portion of the federal deficit can be attributed to cyclical factors—e.g. the non-recovery in the job market.  The answer:  roughly a third.  There’s nothing new here, but it is an excuse for futile repetition of the following upshot:  attempts to cut the deficit right now are self-defeating, to the extent that they drag down growth and employment.

Gennaro Zezza has been all over this.


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