Wed, Jun 19, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Dim future no excuse for inaction: Tackle unemployment now

By Paul Krugman  /  NY Times News Service

Put it this way: Republicans in the US Congress have voted 37 times to repeal healthcare reform, US President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement. Do you really expect those same Republicans to reach a deal with the president over the nation’s fiscal future, which is closely linked to the future of federal health programs? Even if such a deal were somehow reached, do you really believe that the Grand Old Party would honor that deal if and when it regained the White House?

When will we be ready for a long-run fiscal deal? My answer is, once voters have spoken decisively in favor of one or the other of the rival visions driving our current political polarization. Maybe (a possible) US president Hillary Rodham Clinton, fresh off her upset victory in the 2018 midterms, will be able to broker a long-run budget compromise with chastened Republicans; or maybe demoralized Democrats will sign on to (a possible) US president Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare. Either way, the time for big decisions about the long run is not yet.

And because that time is not yet, influential people need to stop using the future as an excuse for inaction. The clear and present danger is mass unemployment, and we should deal with it, now.

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