Some day people will look back in puzzlement at the prevailing U.S. mood of 2011, when in the face of the biggest job-loss collapse in two generations the prevailing rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans alike emphasized the need to cut public spending, now. (And, yes, it should have been seen as puzzling and self-destructive at the time.)
Much as we now look back in puzzlement at the prevailing U.S. rhetoric of 2002, with its gung-ho emphasis on the need to invade Iraq now. And the rhetoric of 2012, going on around us, with its off-hand discussion of the need to attack Iran any day now. Good for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for saying in public what National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has apparently been saying in private on his trip to Israel: that bombing Iran is in fact a risky, bad, and self-defeating idea, and that the Netanyahu team should not be under the illusion that the U.S. would welcome their doing so.
Austerity measures, in the middle of a collapsing private economy, make things worse, not better. This observation would be akin to "gravity pulls you down, not up" except that so many people seemed not to remember or believe it last year. (Viz: the whole debt ceiling train-wreck.)
Here's a visual aid, in keeping with repeated posts that the Atlantic's Derek Thompson has been doing on the subject. It comes from the Rockefeller Institute, which has documented trends in employment over the past few years. These lines show the changes in public and private employment since the collapse that began four years ago: