When you woke up on June 30, you may not have realized that you were waking up to a historic day. However, this was not a day that marked American achievement, innovation, or recovery. It was a morning that witnessed a $166 billion single-day increase in American debt. That would be the third largest deficit hike in American history and, shockingly, we reached this extraordinary mark in just two years of wanton, unchecked spending initiated by President Obama and carried by this Congress.
Economy & Budget
Since the economic meltdown, momentum has been building in Washington to implement a reform bill that, above all else, would prevent our financial system from ever again failing us in the way it did in 2008. Yet amazingly, after two years of debate, the version agreed upon late last week by House and Senate conferees misses that mark by an astounding margin.
Last week, for three hours, the House debated whether to appropriate $33 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were passionate arguments on both sides, with thunderous words from those who seek withdrawal from Afghanistan, and forceful warnings from the other side against undercutting the Commander-in-Chief.
I can say with certainty that the passion that was expended, the loud urging to vote "no" or "yes," actually did not influence anyone's vote. They couldn't influence anyone's vote.
Jeff Faux, EPI founder and Distinguished Fellow, submitted the following written testimony to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform:
The Commission on Deficit Reduction has an opportunity to make a major contribution to both economic policy and democratic decision-making in our country. To do so, it must confront the myths that dominate the debate over the projected federal fiscal deficit. To fail in this basic task would be a major disservice to the nation.
The current national debate -- as reflected in Congress, the media, and polls -- is driven by an assessment of our economic crisis which misdiagnoses it in three ways:
Our nation today remains mired in one of the worst labor markets since the Great Depression. There are currently nearly 14.6 million Americans unemployed, with the unemployment rate hovering at or just under 10 percent for nearly a year. At the end of June, nearly half of those unemployed (45.5 percent) — 6.8 million workers — have been out of work and actively seeking a job for at least six months. Currently, there are nearly five workers actively searching for work for every job available, compared to just one and a half job searchers per job opening before the Great Recession began.
United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard talked with labor organizer Stewart J. Acuff about "Getting America Back to Work," a recently released book Acuff co-authored with economist Richard Levins. The following is the question-and-answer transcript of the interview:
Leo W. Gerard: Stewart, you talk about power in a book you’ve written with economist Dr. Richard A. Levins. You called the manual, “Getting America Back to Work.” What’s the relationship between power and getting people back to work?
Stewart J. Acuff: A big part of the problem we have with this economy or the biggest problem is that most of the money has gone to the Financial Elite — and the power as well. To get America back to work we have to reinvest in our country and our workers. That necessarily means that the Financial Elite get less of the wealth generated by the economy and workers will get more. If you intend to take wealth from the richest people in the history of the world, you have to have enough power to do so.
As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree.
By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts. For decades, the subject of military expenditures has been glaringly absent from public debate. Yet the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion — more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.
Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer some insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
Is the economy headed for a double-dip recession?
For the last few weeks a House-Senate conference committee has been at work trying to craft a final version of a financial regulation package. One amendment offered within that committee encapsulated the entire debate on regulatory reform, pitting institutionalized bailouts against depoliticized taxpayer protections.
Democrats explicitly wrote in a carve-out for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the main feature of the underlying bill, a regulator-directed authority to wind down failed firms. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) offered an amendment to repeal that carve-out. This showed the Democrat bill for what it is: a bailout package. And the debate surrounding the amendment proved that Democrats will make political favors a centerpiece of their “reform.”
While the Obama administration launched its “Recovery Summer” propaganda campaign (paid for at taxpayer expense) this month, private-sector job growth remained stagnant and the U.S. economy shed 125,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today. That’s why I’ve called on the administration and Congress to stop using taxpayer dollars to tout the failed “stimulus” program and start working across the aisle to promote real job growth.