United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries Action Alert
President Obama has just completed his federal budget proposal. Now Congress begins the difficult task of crafting the budget. The stakes for all Americans could not be higher. With nearly one in five potential workers either unemployed or working part time when they want full-time hours, the federal budget must promote job creation.
Depending on its provisions, the federal budget could strengthen the economy and put people back to work, or it could weaken or even reverse the gains that have been made over the past year. Congress must make funding job creation its top priority while also maintaining a strong safety net of programs to support the poor and unemployed.
Some argue we cannot afford to create jobs when the deficit is so large. Actually, we cannot afford not to. Most of the deficit (over three-fifths) is due to the economic downturn and related bailouts and stimulus measures. These expenditures will disappear when the economy is fully recovered. Only when millions of the unemployed are back at work, making money, paying taxes, and no longer relying on safety net programs will the deficit fall to manageable levels, at least in the short term. In the years ahead the deficit will balloon again, largely driven by high health costs. Funding job creation will raise employment and shrink the deficit.
Most of the budget cuts currently being proposed in Congress do not address the immediate cause of the deficit, the economic downturn, nor the longer term problem, escalating health costs. Congress must make funding job creation a budget priority, and this will also reduce the deficit. Moreover, shrinking the deficit when the economy is fragile risks further layoffs or even another recession.