Washington Has Abandoned the Unemployed

Krugman: Why are we obsessed with the deficit when millions need jobs?
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 18, 2011 12:15 PM CDT
In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011, an unidentified job seeker looks for an auto mechanic job opportunity at the Verdugo Job Center in Glendale, Calif.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(Newser) – One-sixth of American workers can’t find full-time jobs, and things aren’t getting any better for them: There are nearly five times more jobless people than there are job openings, and the "average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks." Yet all we hear about from Washington is talk of reducing the deficit, notes Paul Krugman in the New York Times. “We’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care?”

Well, for one thing, we’re currently facing “low hiring, not high firing, so things don’t look so bad—as long as you’re willing to write off the unemployed.” But polls show that Americans care a lot more about jobs than fixing the deficit. And budget-balancing strategies amount to “Herbert Hoover economics,” the idea that since families are struggling, "the government should tighten its own belt." It’s a metaphor embraced by Republicans and Obama—and the jobless are paying for it. It’s time for Washington to get its priorities straight and start "caring again about America’s forgotten millions."

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