Austerity Measures Would Drive Us Over the Fiscal Cliff

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“Too many in Washington are fixated on cutting public spending to balance the budget, not on how to put people back to work and get our economy moving.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  These are the words of 350 leading economists who offer our political leaders a solution to our anemic economy at www.jobsnotausterity.org.  If you do nothing else today, be sure to read this.

These economists write: “There is no theory of economics that explains how we can deflate our way to recovery.”

Let’s examine this point.  As TTD has advocated throughout the election and since the Great Recession began in 2008, one of the best ways to boost our productivity and efficiency, induce private investment, reduce unemployment, efficiently move freight and people, accelerate exports and innovations is to invest – with federal dollars, not fairy dust – in a long-term plan to modernize and expand our transportation system.  Austerity transportation budgets, as some on Capitol Hill have proposed, are not recovery plans.

These 350 economists also point out the severe threat to our economy of a “grand bargain” that gives tax breaks to millionaires; cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and hollows out vital job investment programs.

There is no room for bargaining here.

So, what alternatives do these economists propose?  “The government should invest in areas vital to our economy – to repair crumbling infrastructure, to build 21st century smart-grid, public transportation and renewable energy systems, and to create public and private sector jobs.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Austerity budgets will greatly delay the safety and efficiency benefits we could reap from a “NextGen” air traffic control system, and stall desperately needed airport capacity improvements.

Austerity budgets will end the transit and rail boom we are seeing nationwide and those cuts will have a disproportionate impact on working people who need more affordable commuter options, not draconian cuts that leave them stranded.

Austerity budgets will ensure another decade of dangerously decayed bridges and badly congested highways that cost our economy billions.

And finally, austerity budgets will make it impossible to double our exports and make needed investments in our freight transportation systems, neglected seaports and navigation channels.

The president’s plan to make this the generation that finally modernizes our transportation system by ‘nation building here at home’ is exactly the elixir our economy needs.  It is, as these economic scholars point out, part of the plan needed to ensure Americans aren’t “crippled by another lost decade of joblessness…”

As the signatories to JobsNotAusterity point out, “The budget hawks have the sequence backwards.  Public outlays for jobs and recovery come first, growth is restored, and [tax] revenues follow.  Budget cuts in a deep slump lead to a deeper slump.” Or in the words of The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: “The reason the fiscal cliff is so scary is that it’s an austerity crisis.”

This is the case we will be making to Congress.  To cut spending on vital job investments and reduce benefits for the elderly, sick and disabled, while at the same time coddling the super-rich with a tax code that is unfair, is not a plan that will restore America’s economic might.  It is a plan that will further hollow out the middle class – a plan that will be remembered for the lost opportunity to finally fix the broken funding system that can no longer support our dire transportation needs.

Join the movement for JobsNotAusterity.

 

 

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