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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Austerity and why we need a jobs bill from Congress

Proof:  Why we need an infrastructure/jobs bill from this Congress and the sooner the better:

This is an excellent article in today's New York Times showing Germany as one very appropriate example of precisely why we so sorely need an infrastructure/jobs bill now and have for some time.  Just a few of the best snippets:

Lately...fears about growing public debt have caused wholesale cuts in American public investment. The Germans, of course, yield to no one in their distaste for indebtedness. But they also understand the distinction between consumption and investment. By borrowing, they’ve made investments whose future benefits will far outweigh repayment costs. There’s nothing foolhardy about that...

The Germans are investing in infrastructure not to provide short-term economic stimulus, but because those investments promise high returns. Yet their undeniable side effect has been to bolster employment substantially in the short run...

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation has a backlog of some $3.6 trillion in overdue infrastructure maintenance. No one in Congress seriously proposes that we just abandon our crumbling roads and bridges, and everyone agrees that the repair cost will grow sharply the longer we wait.
The case for accelerated infrastructure investment becomes more compelling with our economy still in the doldrums. That’s because many of the needed workers and machines are now idle. If we wait, we’ll need to bid them away from other tasks. Also because of the sluggish economy, the materials required for the work are now relatively cheap. If we wait, they will become more expensive. And long-term interest rates for the money to pay for the work continue to hover near record lows. They, too, will be higher if we wait...
Now austerity backers urge — preposterously — that infrastructure repairs be postponed until government budgets are in balance. But would they also tell an indebted family to postpone fixing a leaky roof until it paid off all its debts? Not only would the repair grow more costly with the delay, but the water damage would mount in the interim. Families should pay off debts, yes, but not in ways that actually increase their indebtedness in the longer term. The logic is the same for infrastructure.
Sure, the Republicans and Right Wing and all the current President-haters want--and in the case of the Republicans, need--Mr. Obama to fail in his job but that desire or need should clearly pale next to the need for the nation to succeed.  We need our people--at least more of them, if not all--working and our economy to be chugging along.
Besides, this would give Congress something to do.

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