Paul Krugman compares the deficit scare talk that is becoming ubiquitous to the false “groupthink” that led us into the Iraq War. At the opposite pole, the St. Louis Post-Dipsatch printed a story about how attendees at the Tea Party convention are seeking to define their hitherto diffuse, rage-impelled “movement” as a “push for limited government and fiscal conservatism” where “Criticism of the deficit and debt is a growing rallying cry.”
Where do our local politicians come down on this choice between the views of a reality-based Nobel laureate, and sound bites and fury from the same corrupt fools who sold grandma on death panels? The Republicans, of course, have all been pre-programmed to grunt in unison about evil taxes, wasteful spending, and deficit horrors (often, oddly enough, while putting holds on vital appointments in order to get their earmark money). Sadly, however, when it comes to some members of the Missouri Democratic congressional delegation, the answer seems to be pretty clear – they’ll go for the short-term pander as well.
Take, for instance, Claire McCaskill, who loves to talk about how tough she is – she claims she “has never shied away from taking on the special interests, and she has never feared asking the tough questions.” But when it comes to the spending necessary to prime the economy and create the jobs, this is what she has to say :
The friction between job creation and watching our spending, getting control of deficit is huge.
As McJoan at Dkos correctly observes:
Why that should be so, particularly for a Democrat, is a mystery. People with jobs pay taxes, which creates revenue. People with jobs cost the government less in unemployment benefits, in Medicaid, in any number of necessary social services. People with jobs drive our economy.
Want to fix the deficit? Do what is necessary to create jobs – by which I don’t mean more of the voodoo tax cuts of our Republican past – and the deficit will take care of itself. And while that is happening, the job of politicians like McCaskill is to use their considerable communication skills and access to the media to help their constituents understand how it works.
Update: This graph (via TPM) makes the relationship of jobs and stimulus spending pretty clear:
The red bars show the rate of job loss during President Bush’s last year in office; the blue bars show job loss slowing during President Obama’s first year of office … and McCaskill thinks that the deficit is the big problem for our economy right now?