No, says the Nobel Prize-winning economist, who must be hoarse from repeating the same thing for the last four years: The United States is facing a jobs crisis, one that costs the savings, homes and dreams of millions of Americans and about $900 billion a year in lost productivity.
The tragedy of the loss is compounded by its lack of necessity, Krugman writes. Low interest rates currently enable the government to borrow money that it could use to fund stimulus programs that would put Americans to work. And because the government prints its own money, there’s no risk of running out of it.
Yet many of America’s millionaires and billionaires are set on reducing the deficit that is necessary to fund a stimulus program, even as the nation added a measly 146,000 jobs in November, one-third of which came from the retail sector, which is preparing for the holiday shopping rush. Krugman explains why.
So why aren’t we helping the unemployed? It’s not because we can’t afford it. Given those ultralow borrowing costs, plus the damage unemployment is doing to our economy and hence to the tax base, you can make a pretty good case that spending more to create jobs now would actually improve our long-run fiscal position.
Nor, I think, is it really ideology. Even Republicans, when opposing cuts in defense spending, immediately start talking about how such cuts would destroy jobs — and I’m sorry, but weaponized Keynesianism, the assertion that government spending creates jobs, but only if it goes to the military, doesn’t make sense.
No, in the end it’s hard to avoid concluding that it’s about class. Influential people in Washington aren’t worried about losing their jobs; by and large they don’t even know anyone who’s unemployed. The plight of the unemployed simply doesn’t loom large in their minds — and, of course, the unemployed don’t hire lobbyists or make big campaign contributions.