Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Neglected Costs of Republican Budget Cuts

Republican policymakers that seek to implement austerity programs to address the Nation’s fiscal problems rationalize the bitter medicine by asserting that failing to reduce the Nation’s debt will place an undue burden on future generations.

However, these policymakers fail to include the long-term costs associated with implementing austerity programs too early in the Nation’s recovery, and policies that remove oversight of the private sector and weaken workers' voice.

If these policies are pursued, future generations may not face a serious debt burden, but the following will happen:

• Long-term unemployment will remain elevated,
• Minority, youth, and older worker joblessness will remain elevated, and
• Part-time employment will remain elevated.

As a result, future generations will have to pay for the costs of:

• Elevated worker idleness and higher crime rates,
• Larger class sizes and fewer teacher resources,
• Elevated levels of clinical depression,
• Elevated levels of poverty and food insecurity, and
• Elevated numbers of families that can’t achieve a “living wage”.

When these and other costs are included, immediately cutting government spending and returning to the policies of the 1980s at a time when the recovery has stalled, becomes an unattractive and dangerous policy path.