A Disastrous Debt Deal: Just Cuts, and No Jobs

The Senate handed Republicans a complete victory this afternoon, in a crisis they manufactured, then exploited, to wring $2.1 trillion in cuts from the federal budget over the next decade.

Conservatives don't know what to gloat about first. They created a political showdown by attaching their legislative wish list to what should have been a ho-hum bureaucratic vote. (The debt ceiling has been raised 74 times since 1962; only recently has it become a political football.)

And they engineered the first major deficit reduction deal in history that is composed entirely of cuts, with not a single revenue raiser in the package. Spending is capped, which will force labor-law enforcement, occupational health, foreclosure assistance, food-safety oversight, and many other domestic programs to shrink year by year. Worse yet, it empowers a small group of legislators to find their trillions by attacking Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

The Republicans avoided completely any tax increases on their millionaire backers, not even closing any loopholes.

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But Republicans weren’t the only ones who came dressed to dance. President Obama put in play the once unthinkable—cuts to Social Security and Medicare—and made attacks on these bedrock old-age programs part of the conventional wisdom.

The Real Deficit Crisis

The cuts will do nothing to address the nation's real deficit crisis—the lack of good jobs—and are virtually guaranteed to push the country back into recession (a state most working people would say we never left).

For those hoping for jobs, the news is terrible and will get worse. As this Labor Notes graphic shows, most of the few jobs created this year are low-wage.

JobsDeficitGraph

Mark Brenner is the former director of Labor Notes.