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Although he appears to be feeling some heat from progressives over the dangers that further austerity poses to our slowly improving economy, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer is still pushing for it.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters Thursday he thinks there’s an imperative to address long-run budget deficits rationally, before the end of the election, in a way that doesn’t end the explicit guarantees of key government programs. [...]
“I want to emphasize, because I get beat up on, I’m for the Medicare guarantee, I’m not for a Paul Ryan alternative that eliminates the guarantee,” he said. “[Some claim] I’ve said we ought to raise the age. I haven’t said that. What I’ve said is I think everything ought to be on the table.”
He got a big boost Thursday from House Speaker John Boehner. “I think any bipartisan effort that will help reduce our deficit and our debt is a welcome sign, and I frankly have encouraged them,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing.
Austerity isn't just dangerous to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, though by virtue of the fact that it is dangerous to those programs, it's also dangerous to the political fortunes of those who would enact it. But right now, it's also really dangerous to the nation's economy and nascent recovery.
There are many reasons for the uptick, from businesses having reached productivity limits, thus requiring the addition of new workers to keep up with increasing demand, to auto manufacturing kicking back into gear after being disrupted by the earthquake in Japan one year ago today.
But the employment situation is getting better for another crucial reason: public sector jobs are no longer being savaged. Over 570,000 public sector jobs have been lost since the recession began, decreasing steadily every month—even though the private sector has been adding jobs since mid-2009. In 2011, the public sector was losing an average of 22,000 jobs per month, but in February only (“only”) 6,000 jobs were lost. [...]
[A] return to slashing austerity cuts at the federal and state level would also retard the recovery—and this is not only a completely controllable policy choice, but one many people in Washington are actively trying to make.
It just doesn't make sense on a policy level or on a political level to try to slash spending even further than it already has been, or to make people's economic lives more uncertain than they already are. But that seems to be precisely what Hoyer and a cadre of House members, mostly Republican, want to do.