Brad DeLong pinpoints one of the things that's been particularly strange about the complacency in the powers that be over what in any other time would have been panic over unemployment.
The most astonishing and surprising thing I find about Washington DC today is the contrast in mood between DC today and what DC was thinking a generation ago, in 1983, the last time the unemployment rate was kissing 10%. Back then it was a genuine national emergency that unemployment was so high--real policies like massive monetary ease and the eruption of the Reagan deficits were put in place to reduce unemployment quickly, and everybody whose policies wouldn't have much of an effect on jobs was nevertheless claiming that their projects were the magic unemployment-reducing bullet.
Today.... nobody much in DC seems to care. A decade of widening wealth inequality that has created a chattering class of reporters, pundits, and lobbyists who have no connection with mainstream America? The collapse of the union movement and thus of the political voice of America's sellers of labor power? I don't know what the cause is. But it does astonish me.
Democrat Max Baucus dismisses the plight of the long-term unemployed and elected officials and that chattering class continue to obsess over the deficit, as if having a country at full employment--paying income taxes and buying stuff--wasn't the key to a robust economy and reduced deficits.
It's particularly confusing and frustrating that it's the ruling Democrats that are taking such a blase attitude toward this unemployment crisis. Both in that they are forgetting who brung them to this dance, and because keeping a Democratic majority is going to come down to jobs, because the improvements in the economy are not trickling down to most Americans, and the economic pain and insecurity is real. That's what this new ad by a coalition of unemployed workers organized by the Machinists Union is trying to point out.