Economists call for tax cuts and government spending rather than deficit reduction

Economists on CBS' Face The Nation said the federal government should be doing more to jumpstart the economy, such as cutting taxes and investing in infrastructure.

"Right now," said former Council of Economic Advisers chair Laura Tyson, "the deficit is not the major issue."

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, agreed.

"We do need to address our long-term fiscal problems," he said, "but not in the near-term."

Many voters, however, are expressing worries about the nation's long-term financial shape. And the strength of the Tea Party movement is based in large part on its calls for fiscal responsibility.

Zandi said suspending the payroll tax as President Obama is expected to propose Wednesday would make sense.

"I think if we suspend the payroll tax for businesses that go out and hire additional workers, expand the job tax credit that's in place today ... I think that would be a boost to the economy," he said.

Obama is also likely to call for a permanent extension of the Research and Development tax credit.

Zandi said the business community, which has soured on Obama, could support the measures - depending on how they're paid for. But he warned against eliminating the Bush tax cuts for wealthy tax payers, at least until the economy recovers in a couple of years.

"I wouldn't resume those taxes," he said. "I think the recovery is just too fragile and we can't take that chance."

They both said more stimulus help could help the economy - although not immediately - even if it may be politically unpalatable.

"In my view, the economy needs some more help," Zandi said.

Tyson said significant investment in infrastructure - such as high speed rail and air traffic control modernization - is a logical step when the nation faces $2 trillion of unaddressed needs.

"Infrastructure spending is terrific in two ways," she said. "It creates demand right away, when you go out and get the projects started and get the workers started. It also creates the ability to grow and be productive in the future."

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