Yesterday Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum drew some disheartening conclusions from the budget deal worked out between Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray – the much-lauded compromise that is headed for passage, barring some last-minute Tea Party putsch in the House. Sure, Drum allowed, the budget’s entitlement cuts were almost too tiny to notice, and along the way some sequester reductions were restored. But that wasn’t the point.
“Two years ago,” Drum wrote, “Ryan’s budget was basically at the outer limit of mainstream conservative wish lists. Today it looks tame . . . Republicans have massively changed the spending conversation since 2010. Austerity has won.”
The fact remains that many in the political media are applauding the new budget as a triumph of realpolitik simply because it defuses the threat of a determined minority taking down the world economic order – a threat that has become the new baseline in budget negotiations.
“Our biggest problems over the next 10 years are not deficits,” the President told House Republicans Wednesday, according to those who attended the meeting.
The President needs to deliver the same message to the public, loudly and clearly. The biggest problems we face are unemployment, stagnant wages, slow growth and widening inequality — not deficits. The major goal must be to get jobs and wages back, not balance the budget.
Paul Ryan’s budget plan — essentially, the House Republican plan — is designed to lure the White House and Democrats, and the American public, into a debate over how to balance the federal budget in 10 years, not over whether it’s worth doing.
“This is an invitation,” Ryan explained when he unveiled the plan Tuesday. “Show us how to balance the budget. If you don’t like the way we’re proposing to balance our budget, how do you propose to balance the budget?”
Until now the President has seemed all too willing to engage in that debate.
A Mediterranean diet, the New England Journal of Medicine reported Monday, can lengthen one’s lifespan. So inhabitants of southern Europe can look forward to long lives — of anxiety and privation.
Already mired in a depression comparable to that of the 1930s, Spain, Greece and Portugal are going to see things grow worse this year, according to an annual economic forecast released by the European Commission on Friday. Unemployment rates in both Spain and Greece — where a quarter of the populations are unemployed and the share of jobless young people exceeds 50 percent — will rise to 27 percent.
At least the leaders in power in 1930 had an excuse when the economy began to collapse. Then, there was genuine bewilderment among economists and governmental chieftains across the political spectrum about how to induce a recovery. From British Laborite Ramsay MacDonald to the German centrist Heinrich Bruning to American conservative Herbert Hoover,