Both Republicans and Democrats are united in insisting that the nation's first economic priority must be deficit reduction, including cuts in federal spending, though they disagree about specifics. They're wrong.
The biggest priority should be job creation. And cuts in domestic spending mean, in essence, firing people, cutting federal employees. Over the last year, we've seen fairly robust growth in new jobs in the private sector, but unemployment is still high because of corresponding job losses in the public sector — state governments firing teachers, firemen, other state employees.
House Speaker John Boehner, for example, said recently "we need to cut spending, so we can create jobs." This is akin to saying "we need to plant tomatoes in our gardens, so that we can change the oil in our cars." The two ideas are completely unrelated.
I understand concerns over the deficit. I share them. Growing the economy will do more to decrease the deficit than any misguided cuts in spending, which will accomplish nothing but make the recession worse. As we've seen in Europe — austerity doesn't work. We cannot create jobs by cutting jobs. We cannot decrease unemployment by increasing unemployment.