The headline on WashingtonPost.com this morning read “Anxieties run high as debt increases.” Really? Is that what Americans are really worried about? Do you & your family sit around the kitchen table every night, brow furrowed, asking why those elected officials in Washington won’t get to work laying off government workers & cutting holes in the social safety net?
Polls show Americans ARE worried about debt – their own. Unemployment remains high and real wages are flat. Asked to name their top concern in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF) last month, nearly twice as many voters picked jobs & the economy as the deficit & spending.
I’m feeling the pain of flat wages personally, but I’ve told myself, “Well, at least I’m not getting laid off like some of my friends.” What am I going to do? Go to my boss & threaten to quit? We both know I wouldn’t have a lot of openings out there to choose from. Of course, it’s not just that my salary is staying the same – it’s that health care costs are taking out a bigger bite every year.
But who in Washington is willing to stand up for workers and jobs? President Obama’s budget plan, while encouraging in calling for tax increases on the wealthy & targeted new investments, contains even more cuts to domestic spending. Look at the WhiteHouse.gov fact sheet on the plan – each of the first four highlighted items is about the deficit.
Of course, what no one talks about is that the deficit will fix itself if we make sure the economy recovers, allow the Affordable Care Act to take effect & let the Bush tax cuts expire. As Paul Krugman says of Obama’s budget, “I could live with this as an end result. If this becomes the left pole, and the center is halfway between this and Ryan, then no – better to pursue the zero option of just doing nothing and letting the Bush tax cuts as a whole expire.”