From Calculated Risk, this morning.
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.' ]
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Fallows is a staff writer 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. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the 2018 book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which was a national best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.