On this matter Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is fundamentally right, and official Washington is disastrously wrong, about the central problem facing the nation.
In the short term, the major national crisis is the lack of jobs, not the budget deficit. The deficit is a medium- and long-term issue while joblessness is an urgent, immediate issue and, in fact, the great moral and economic crisis of our times.
It was a mistake for Republicans to push the sequester and for the president and Democrats to surrender to the sequester happening without even making a fight. It was a mistake to increase the payroll tax with growth so slow and joblessness so high. It is a mistake for both parties to compete about whose proposal will either destroy more jobs or fail to create new jobs. It is a mistake for the president and Democrats not to even try to promote a significant new jobs bill that would confront the GOP before the nation with a debate about jobs that is long overdue but not being fought by either party in any budget.
Regarding the president, one might compare his inaugural address, his State of the Union, his campaign-like appearances since the inauguration and now the latest reset. We find no linear consistency, no evidence that the president had thought through and is executing a plan that should have been devised before the inauguration, and no plan to fight for and create new jobs. His second term has begun like a television series with disconnected episodes.
Regarding the Republicans, their party is bitterly divided, even more than analysts realize, with the common denominator being that the Republican factions would either destroy more jobs or oppose proposals that would create them. I do not agree with everything Paul Krugman suggests, but compared to the president and both parties in Washington, Krugman has earned his Nobel prize for economics.
He has been well ahead of the curve before the financial crisis, during the financial crisis, and after the financial crisis. The great challenge for today is jobs and growth. The great policy that is needed would create more jobs and more growth. The great debate that is needed should not be between those who would destroy many more jobs versus those who would create very few jobs.
On this matter count me in with Krugman.