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Saturday, October 20, 2018

by Joe Miller, The Century Foundation

So, apparently the IRS has illegally investigated the tax-exempt status of AP reporters who were calling Tea Party groups in Benghazi. Or something like that. It’s been a little hard to decipher my Twitter stream of late.

What’s much clearer is that Washington’s latest round of Much Ado About Nothing scandal-mongering has come at the perfect time to distract us from several important issues that were starting to gain some traction.

Here are five things we should be talking about right now, but aren’t.

1. Unemployment And The Budget.

Unemployment rate

Remember how not very long ago, everyone was running around predicting a budget doomsday, with mounting deficits signaling an imminent collapse of the economy? Debt hysteria brought us austerity measures, including massive budget cuts and the end of a pile of stimulus spending.

Only it turns out that the justification for austerity was based on an Excel error.

And yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the deficit for 2013 is $200 billion lower than its estimate in 2013, and that the 10-year cumulative number decreased by $618 billion.


So austerity is a mistake, and the deficit is improving anyway. Maybe it’s time to address the fact that the unemployment rate remains at 7.5%.

In February, the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a plan that addressed unemployment. That plan would replace sequestration with a number of short-term stimulus measures, all aimed at directly putting Americans back to work. Or we could go big, and embrace Century Foundation and Economic Policy Institute fellow Andrew Fieldhouse’s call for $2 trillion in new stimulus spending.

The media is busy reminding us that freedom of the press is the only thing guarding their ability to create fake scandals and lie about sources. A better use of time might involve reminding the Congress that 11.7 million Americans can’t find a job.

Graph: Bureau of Labor Statistics