It's not uncommon before presidents go on long trips abroad to try and signal that they haven't forgotten problems at home. So it's no coincidence that the White House announced a jobs summit on the eve of the president's trip to Asia, even before the dates of the summit are announced. Such summits can be gabfests but they can also be useful. Obama's summits on health care and deficit reduction helped the health care legislative process get off to a good start even if it's gone through inevitable death swoons since then. The White House is also signaling that it's going to start cracking down on spending after aggressive anti-recession moves that have swelled the annual federal budget deficit to over $1 trillion.
The question ahead is: can he do both? Can he take renewed measured to combat double-digit unemployment and trim the deficit. In some ways, the answer is obviously yes. If you can get real health-care cost control, it'd be the most important thing towards rectifying the country's fiscal outlook. But in other ways, it's not going to be so easy to pair the twin instincts of job expansions and fiscal rectitude. Inevitably, Obama is going to have to propose some new spending to combat the recession while offering cuts to programs that already have a constituency. That won't be easy. Interesting pieces on what to do about unemployment from John Nichols at The Nation here.
Paul Krugman takes on the topic here.
What do you think is the best approach at this point? A second stimulus? Tax cuts? Labor rule changes? Or will this problem mend itself?
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