Keith Chrostowski at the Kansas City Star provides a good summary of the arguments for fiscal restraint during this economic disaster while calling for extension of unemployment benefits. I find the arguments for such restraint to be ridiculous. Chrostowski only summarizes these arguments and I have no problem with his views but the arguments for fiscal restraint during this crisis border on the bizarre.
Where were all those people when the Bush tax cuts were put in place? Where were all these people when during a period of massive public approval and unity, George Bush asked for no tax to finance the war? Where were all these people when Congress approved an enormous expansion in Medicaid? Is it only when the crisis concerns the basic middle class American that we discover we are in a crisis?
Where were all these economists when the estate tax (fortunately only for a while) was repealed? Where were all these formerly employed politicians (Alan Simpson, are you reading this?) now shouting “fiscal restraint?”
It is hard to describe my anger at these “born again” budgeteers. My students suffer. The people I know suffer. This economy is damaging lives and destroying the hopes and dreams of tens of millions of Americans. And now, only now, do these cowardly wretches find the fortitude to challenge spending. It seems you can make wars, cut taxes and do every kind of strange appropriation until the American people are hurting and then and only then, must we become “tough minded” and fiscally concerned.
We exercise fiscal restraint according to Keynes when the economy is healthy. This one isn’t. We labor under intense levels of unemployment, a little under 10%. If we count those who have simply given up looking for work, the number climbs toward 16% which is roughly the same as in the great depression. I tell you with conviction that this recession is becoming and may already be a depression and our leaders are unable and unwilling to meet that challenge.
We are rapidly moving toward desperate times. Each day I drive to work and see businesses closing. Each day I see nothing to give me hope for my students and confidence in the economy. Each day I wait and hope and pray that the leadership of this country will do the simple and basic things necessary to employ the great and good American people. This people who have astonished the world with their achievements and can do so once again if only given the opportunity.
But I know this is not going to happen. This people do not appear to be worth a second glance. When fiscal pain must in the eyes of these unsought comedians, these fact distant fools, be felt, it is only when the great mass of Americans are enduring the pain and suffering of evil economic times brought on by the rapacious stupidity of the financial elite.