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Posted at 2:47 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Bipartisanship! Repubs, Dems, indys agree jobs far more important than deficit

By Greg Sargent

Today's Gallup poll finds yet again that the public ranks jobs as a far more important problem than the deficit. The partisan breakdown shows that even Republicans agree with this:


While Republicans are more likely to cite the deficit as our chief problem than Dems or independents are, they cite jobs as our number one problem over the deficit by a margin of two to one.

Obviously Republicans would differ sharply with Dems over what we should do about unemployment. But it's still striking that there's such a high degree of consensus -- across party lines -- that jobs are a much more important problem than the deficit is. This is yet another sign of the disconnect in priorities between the American public and centrist Beltway media figures, who, as John Harris and Jim VandeHei wrote the other day, have developed an unhealthy obsession with the deficit as the number one litmus test issue for serious politicans, as well as a tendency to fetishize bipartisan deficit commissions.

Maybe all this bipartisan agreement on the importance of jobs over the deficit will change their mind!

By Greg Sargent  | February 11, 2011; 2:47 PM ET
Categories:  Political media, bipartisanship, deficit  
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Maybe JOBS is very, very important to most folks. This is not surprising because jobs means survival.

But, if jobs are very, very important, the shameful deficit is very important. It could mean national ruin and with that no jobs.

Stop the spending!

Posted by: battleground51 | February 11, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The problem, of course, is that the job-killing President who sits in the job-killing White House under the job-killing Stars and Stripes is in the wrong party.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 11, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Another problem is that deficit hawks seem to miss the big picture.
I published some budget numbers here last night and while the operating budget is not balanced, we can see that it could be done.

More frightening is the entitlement budget. Med/Med is now a $700B hole, annually, and getting bigger. It is completely unsustainable, and the tax burden to carry it would be large and it would have to be shared.

Let me pose this conundrum: jobs are far more important to individuals than the federal debt. The government can do something about the federal debt. It can raise taxes and it can lower spending and it probably must do both.

Just what do you think a federal government can do about job creation, in the short run? I think it can bail out states to prevent some job loss. I think it can extend unemployment compensation until jobs appear. I think it can directly let more bridge and tunnel and port and IH repairs and renovations, while labor is cheap and contractors have idle capacity. I think it could push the easing of credit to small biz. I do not think it can actually do much. Do you? How?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 11, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Mark I think it was over a year ago, maybe more we had this talk at some length. It boils down to this, why hire Americans when you could hire someone offshore? The answer to that question has to be very clear.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

shrink, some mechanism to discourage off-shoring and encourage domestic hiring would be welcome. I can imagine tax incentives or direct subsidies, but they all seem inelegant, clumsy, slow, or in violation of WTC rules, or trade treaties. Getting out of WTC? NAFTA? Do we know the risks as well as the rewards?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 11, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Do we know the risks as well as the rewards?"

No, we can only guess. We are the largest economy in the world and if we decide we are going to reverse course, if we decide to play the state capitalism game as they are doing in China and Russia, we could get right back into trade wars and I don't just mean cold wars. So far, we have said we will compete with any people and any economic system in the world. But now we can't.

We can not compete in the race to the bottom. We have to protect our middle class. If we don't, there will be nothing worth protecting. We'll be a big country, mostly foreign owned, with a lot of very poor people and a few very rich people.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Of Course Republicans never complained when Bush was not creating any jobs, while also greatly expanding deficit spending.

Has Paul Ryan found his 2009 Health Care Reform Bill yet. Where's The Beef Paul, or were you just using The Big lie Tactic in 2009?

I think you were just telling The Big Lie, because you still have not introduced that bill.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 11, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

False choice

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 11, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"Of Course Republicans never complained when Bush was not creating any jobs, while also greatly expanding deficit spending."

Of course not. It's like a sporting event. You don't boo your own team.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 11, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

OT, I have high hopes for Plouffe. He was The Architect.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are painting themselves into a corner. "Tim Pawlenty says bullies and world leaders respect strength, not weakness, and President Barack Obama needs to stop apologizing to the nation's enemies.

Pawlenty, a potential White House challenger to Obama in two years, told conservatives on Friday that Obama has excelled at duping reporters into comparing him to Republican President Ronald Reagan. Pawlenty says Reagan knew how to stare down America's enemies, a skill Obama lacks." AP

What a clown. So dreadful, the next Republican spokesflaks have to pander to the ignorance of the Republican base this particular week.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

"I think it can directly let more bridge and tunnel and port and IH repairs and renovations, while labor is cheap and contractors have idle capacity. I think it could push the easing of credit to small biz. I do not think it can actually do much. Do you? How? Posted by: mark_in_austin"

Your First statement directly contradicts your third.

Consider a theoretical jobs program to bury a power grid and a communications grid under the interstate. From our experience with other Orange Barrel Projects, this is a five to ten year job, distributed across the country. It is totally beyond the capability of private industry to accomplish, and once up and running is a significant benefit to every individual and business in the country. Virtually 100% of the money spent ends up being spent locally, with the exception of some materials, and everything is likely to be domestic product one way or another. It puts significant numbers of Americans in long term jobs, and adds money to the economy in a controlled flow. It can be paid for by targeted taxes.

It is big government in a very big way, though, so in spite of being a significant benefit and a major economic force, it is totally unthinkable.

Note that the Communications back Bone could be the property of the Post Office, insuring that there is at least one communications backbone not subject to private for profit behavior that might keep some people or businesses out of the internet, but would NOT be the only such backbone, since we already have the internet.

Burying the main power grid somewhere is an obvious step in going to a 21st century power grid, since burying it makes weather related outages nearly impossible. Planning ahead while doing the construction can make transitioning to high temperature superconductors if they ever become possible considerably easier. Once the main trunks are in place the Government can use transmission fees to pay off the costs.

Two costly projects that are obviously doable.

They will never be considered.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 11, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

@cefly - I think the residents of Montgomery County, MD, would tend to agree with you.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 11, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Just as an aside, the big power lines can not be buried or they would melt, resistance, heat loss, all that.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@shrink - If you don't mind, I'll take a stab at this. I visited Kent State last fall to give a seminar at the Liquid Crystal Institute. I got to see a lot of cool stuff there. One conversation sticks in my memory. A professor was talking about how a number of smaller companies were moving business back on shore and hiring in that area.

A big portion of this was the superior quality of the work done by the Americans. They were also developing a critical nucleus of related companies and skilled workers. It's not always about the cheapest cost of production.

A lot could be done to improve American competitiveness. We cannot make the US dollar our chief export. If Greece, Spain and Ireland aren't too big to fail, we aren't either.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 11, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely agree with you. Tiger Mom math drilling is ridiculous, but creative technical competence is something, we as Americans are still the best.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I clearly recall candidate obama's statements during the financial melt down. Mc Cain proposed suspending the campaign and getting back to work as Senators. Obama arrogantly replied that he could multitask. He could walk and chew gum at the same time.

Now Mr Sargent is offering us a false dilemma, we have to pick one or the other. Apparently PRESIDENT Obama is not nearly as capable as CANDIDATE Obama claimed.

In Mr Sargent's world we can have more jobs or we can have less spending. We cannot have both.

Really? Why is that?

Government spending really is within the purview of the government. Job creation generally isn't. Idiotic pork barrel schemes like high speed rail (yeah, like that'll work) or a buried national communications grid won't restore America to vibrancy. The WPA didn't end the recession and Obama's reincarnation of those failed concepts won't either.

We, the electorate, are now harvesting the bitter fruits of decades of neglect. We took our eye of the politicians and their union cronies and now we are in serious trouble. Now instead of working hard at our jobs and raising our families we must also get in the faces of the elected to insure that the screw job we're getting ultimately comes to an end.

If we really want to reduce spending in America we need to replicate plain speaking straight forward people like Chris Christie. We need to be honest with ourselves and confrontational with the nipple suckers among us.

And if we really want jobs, we need to end the crony socialism, the march to the left, and the yoke of government interference in our lives.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 11, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to "super conducting" power lines. They were supposed to be just around the corner, about twenty years ago.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 11, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to "super conducting" power lines.

Yeah, they have to be cold. The Earth is warm. Oh well.

I am still holding out for the promise of my personal jet-pack. Did you read Popular Mechanics in the sixties too?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 11, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse


The WPA and the New Deal did not end the Depression, but they went a long way towards alleviating the Depression's effects. When Roosevelt took over in March 1933, unemployment was at 25%. By 1936, after nearly four years of the New Deal, unemployment was reduced by a third to 16%. But WPA workers were officially counted as unemployed, and if you counted them as employed - which they most certainly were since they were employed by the WPA - the unemployment rate was more like 9% in 1936.

It was only when Roosevelt drastically curtailed spending in trying to balance the budget in 1937 did the economy fall back off the cliff. Only when he resumed spending in mid-1938, which resucitated the WPA and the PWA, did the economy begin to recover.

We'll never know, but it's logical to conclude that had Roosevelt kept on priming the pump in 1937 rather than cutting spending, the unemployment rate would've continued going down steadily as it had from 1933-1936 when the New Deal spending policies were in place, and it almost certainly would've been much lower than the 19% unemployment that remained at decade's end.

Posted by: puakev | February 11, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"Just as an aside, the big power lines can not be buried or they would melt, resistance, heat loss, all that. Posted by: shrink2 "

The heat isn't the problem, because they don't carry all that much current, and heat is I**2R. The very high voltages, on the order of tens of millions of volts make burial only feasible if the buried lines are carefully and multiply armored so that when some idiot ignores many warning devices he still can't actually get into such voltages.

But burying high tension lines in armored tunnels is possible, heating and all. That isn't cheap but it is eminently feasible, and has been proposed for bringing power down from Nevada to Sacramento along I 80.

That got shot down, by the way.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 11, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

"What ever happened to "super conducting" power lines. They were supposed to be just around the corner, about twenty years ago. Posted by: Liam-still"

There are several problems involved in bringing superconducting power lines into being, and one of them may make it physically impossible.

The current technical problems are that the only relatively high temperature superconductors are still only workable at temperatures well below liguid nitrogen, and they make lousy wires.

There is, however, an inherent problem in superconductivity that may make superconducting power lines impossible, and that is that large currents flowing through superconducting materials alter the conditions that make superconductivity possible, so that while the material is nicely superconductive at a given temperature, once significant current starts to flow the necessary spin pairings that seem to make high temp super conductors work tend to go away because the current makes one of the two spins impossible.

The Math isn't conclusive, and there are other possible mechanisms for superconductivity, but right now high current superconductors don't work well except at very low temperatures.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 11, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

You beat me to it, cefly. And you do not want to be around a superconducting magnet that quenches.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 11, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, guys. Thanks.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 11, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

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