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No verbs in this sentence. Or this one. Taken out to pass muster with "moderates" in Congress. Nouns, prepositions next up for cuts.

Democrats have chopped more than 25 percent out of the jobs bill, which is actually an amalgam of economic relief measures. The objective: collect "moderate" votes from other Democrats needed to pass the legislation. There is no guarantee the cuts will achieve that objective, however.

Among other things, the revised bill would only extend unemployment benefits until November 30 instead of December 31, as first intended.

Much of this has to do with deficit hawks who, although wrong, at least have a reasonably consistent record for their stance, and the deficit peacocks who only worry about deficits when tax cuts for the rich and war spending aren't at issue.

The reality is - as the continuing mess in Europe and today's disappointing gross domestic product numbers and new jobless benefit claims demonstrate - the recovery remains dicey. That means worries about deficit spending ought to be far down in Democratic thinking.

As Harold Meyerson so aptly pointed out in Wednesday's Washington Post:

The official unemployment rate is 9.9 percent; there are still more than five unemployed job seekers for every opening; and a record percentage of the unemployed have been jobless for more than six months.

Yet the deficit hawks' rejoinder is essentially: So what? Government spending is out of control. We need to cut back now.

The problem with this ostensible solution is twofold. First, it conflates short-term deficits needed to stanch the recession with long-term issues of fiscal sustainability. Such thinking risks turning a short-term recession into long-term stagnation, much as Japan did in the 1990s by failing to stimulate its economy sufficiently. Second, it calculates the dollar cost of the stimulus but neglects to factor in the dollar benefit from, for instance, keeping hundreds of thousands of teachers, police and firefighters on the job and paying taxes rather than collecting unemployment insurance. Once such particulars are accounted for, a new study from the liberal Economic Policy Institute argues, the cost of the jobs created in the bill coming before the House this week is more than halved, from $75 billion to $35 billion.

Marshall Auerback weighs in similarly:

Harold Meyerson is spot on: “Of all the gaps between elite and mass opinion in America today, perhaps the greatest is this: The elites don’t really believe we’re still in recession. Or maybe, they just don’t care.” What is even more galling is that, having been the greatest beneficiaries of the government’s largesse over the past 2 years, these very same people now decry the government’s “irresponsible” and “unsustainable” fiscal policy. ...

Conveniently lost in all of this furor about the deficit are the beneficiaries of this recent government largesse. It’s certainly not the unemployed or the vast majority of people who do not work in the financial services industry.

It's not that huge amounts of deficit spending can go on forever. And nobody suggests they should. But the economy is far from healed. And while we obviously can expect little from Congress in the way of measures pushing long-term structural improvement in the economy - something that deals with stagnant wages and industrial policy - can't we at least get a bit more of what actually worked 17 months ago to keep us out of a depression? You know, from Democrats, the party of FDR? Instead of all this lame neoliberal caterwauling?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu May 27, 2010 at 09:00 AM PDT.

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