We're still in the worst economic mess since the Great Depression and it is likely to get worse yet. That is because Congress is getting ready to cut government spending radically, thereby throwing many people out of work.
So, what can be done?
Eventually we are going to have to reduce our debt and deficits; however, to do that now by cutting spending and laying off employees would be a mistake. Unemployment is now at 9.2 percent and 14 million people are looking for work. We need more people employed, not fewer.
Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of our economy and throwing people out of work is not going to promote consumer spending. As it is our economy only grew at a 1.3 percent rate in the second quarter, way below a normal 3 percent rate.
What the government needs to do is put people to work doing things that benefit the country. Roads and bridges, public buildings and parks could all be improved. We need more and better-trained teachers. We could improve police and fire protection. We need a huge upgrade in Homeland Security to meet growing terrorist threats.
All of these things and more would both benefit the country and provide employment for many people. Of course these projects would cost money and our deficit would grow even larger for a time; however, these new employees would add to consumption and would pay taxes. The economy would recover.
With a sustainable economic recovery underway the private sector would begin to hire and invest and the government role could be reduced. Right now U.S. corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash that they are not using to expand their businesses. Why? Because they don't see enough demand out there to justify expansion.
Government spending on public projects can create the demand that the private sector is looking for.
As the economy grows the private sector will move in and the government can move out. That is when the debt and deficit problems can be dealt with, but now is not the time. We need to get the economy growing first. Then we can work on debt reduction.