The Real Deficit Problem: One More Essential Chart

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From Calculated Risk, this morning.

EmployRessJuly2011.jpg


We have spent six months in an invented political crisis about the nightmare "emergency"  of the federal deficit.

The federal deficit is a serious challenge in the long run. The real emergency is how many people are still out of work. That's the deficit that matters. Almost nothing can do more harm to a nation's cultural, social, political, and of course economic fabric than sustained high joblessness. And of nothing can do more, faster, to reduce a federal deficit than a restoration of economic growth. That political and media attention got hijacked to a fake debt-ceiling "emergency" is 1937 all over again -- but worse, because in principle we had the real 1937 to learn from.

[ Be sure to see Don Peck's cover story on exactly this topic in our upcoming September issue (subscribe!). Also, on some unexpected political fallout from the (unnecessary) debt fight, see 'Between the Lines.' ]
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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