Comments about ‘Letter: Job creation should be a top priority, not deficit reduction’

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Published: Wednesday, May 30 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Good letter, even Mitt Romney recently said that cutting spending would sink the economy. He probably regrets saying it now, but it was true. That's the definition of a gaffe: when a politician says something accidentally, that happens to be true.

Burke, VA

Excellent letter Eric. Thanks for making this important point. The tone of your letter addresses the false impression being presented by Republicans, especially the presumptive nominee, that spending has increased under the current adminstration faster than ever before when the exact opposite is true. "Spending has increased at a yearly rate of only 1.4 percent during Obama’s tenure, even if you include some stimulus spending (in the 2009 fiscal year) that technically should be attributed to President George W. Bush. This is by far the smallest increase in spending of any recent president.

"In Bush’s first term, by contrast, federal spending increased at an annual rate of 7.3 percent; in his second term, the annual rise averaged 8.1 percent. Reagan comes next, in terms of profligacy, followed by George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and finally Obama, the thriftiest of them all."

Yes, the deficit has risen quickly but that is because of lower revenue caused by unemployment and especially caused by the Bush tax cuts. As stated by the auther, "Growing the economy will do more to decrease the deficit than any misguided cuts in spending."

Thanks for saying it.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

The analogy I've heard is that the austerity measures advocated by the GOP is, "Our house is on fire, but due to drought, we need to conserve water first." It should be the other way around -- get the economy moving (put out the fire) and then when people are working and tax revenues are flowing to cover spending, we can engage in government auterity measures that will be covered by a healthy economy.

The GOP doesn't understand that the government is a MAJOR component of the economy. When it builds roads, bridges, and infrastructure, it uses local businesses to accomplish that work. Too often I hear conservatives proclaim that all government spending is a waste.

Who built the Internet? Who built the railroads? Who built the electricty transmission system? Who built the Interstate highway system? Who built Hoover Dam and Tennessee Valley Authority? All were government projects that benefited industry and economic development.

Were their failures and corruption in building the Internet and railroads? Of course, but collectively, it was for the better for the public and economic good.

Had the government NOT built the Internet, Google and Facebook would not exist today.

Centerville, UT

As we've seen in Europe — austerity doesn't work.

Austerity in Europe is dealing with benefits provided to individuals, not jobs. The reason it hasn't worked is the entitlement attitude of the beneficiaries. Greece wants a bailout so they can pay their retirement commitments that start in the early fifties. I can not get those same benefits until I reach age 67. The revolt against austerity is a revolt about benefits.


The letter is correct. I keep hearing we are getting our grandkids into debt. Well someone got me into debt too. In fact I have not been alive for one second in this country where there was no debt. From the get go debt was used to further this country.
Don't stop now. Making a robust economy is the best bet to curbing our problem. Getting out of debt isn't the issue. Our sagging economy is. Once everyone has jobs guess who will be complaining about the debt? NO ONE.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


If we had a relatively low debt load, I might be more inclined to agree. But high debt levels sends signals to the markets reference inflation which, in turn, drives interest rates and investment decisions.

I certainly think that both spending control and some level of "revenue enhancement" need to combine to get our debt under control. Doing so will result in some short term pain but will also convince businesses and investors that we have our house in order, that our economy will avoid strong inflation (or worse, "stagflation") and that investments in both assets and people are justified. None of this should be interpreted as justification for draconian cuts.

So, I think that getting our house in order (no small challenge given the political chill) is our first priority. To be sure, it is a long term, rather than short term play. But I think it wiser over the long run.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Let's cut all taxes on the wealthy. That way they can continue to create jobs in China & India.

Sandy, UT

This letter brings to mind a well-known, but appropriate story told about Milton Friedman told by a colleague of his:

"Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Make no mistake about it: Mr. Samuelson illustrates the thinking of economists currently in charge of Western economies, including ours (think Bernanke and Krugman). These are the kinds of people who created the mess we're in by emphasizing jobs over economic stability. First you create economic stability, then jobs will come. Creating jobs with money that doesn't exist is why we are where we are now.

Tooele, UT

Re: "We cannot create jobs by cutting jobs."

Yeah, we can. As long as we cut the right jobs.

The largest anchor of the recession, and the largest detractor from a sustained recovery is brutally unfair competition from bloated, unaccountable, unproductive Big Government.

Instead of seeking new, ever more deranged methods of filching and sequestering capital away from the people and private markets, instead of feeding a mutating, metastasizing, insatiable government beast, we should be seeking ways energize the productive, private economy.

The best way? Get government out of the way!

If growing government and gifting unproductive, unsustainable bureaucratic jobs to the politically deserving were a valid economic model, the East Bloc would still be in business and euro-socialism would be flourishing.

See any evidence of that?

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Why have the attitude that we need to spend - at any cost?

Government does not create private sector jobs. Government jobs do not increase revenues - they require revenues.

The only way out of this fiscal mess is to have more tax payers. The only way to have more tax payers is to have more jobs. The only way to have more jobs is to reduce the amount of money flowing from the individual taxpayers to Washington so that the individual taxpayers can buy those goods and services from private enterprise.

The federal government has been charged to handle 17 duties. ONLY SEVENTEEN. It does not take 2,500,000 government workers to handle those seventeen duties. Spending must be slashed. People on the government payroll must be fired. Wages to government workers must be cut. There should be no incentive for people to leave the private sector to get a job in "government".

When jobs are cut, when spending is cut, when taxes are reduced, when restrictive regulations are reversed, then the private sector can build businesses and hire people. Those people will be adding to government revenues instead of spending our taxes.

Burke, VA

"The largest anchor of the recession, and the largest detractor from a sustained recovery is brutally unfair competition from bloated, unaccountable, unproductive Big Government."

Spoken by someone who has no knowledge of the contracting policies and procedures of the federal government. During the Iraq War there were many instances of no-bid contracting and that was rationalized by the White House as necessary for the circumstances. But in normal times, government contracting bends over backwards to insure competition. It is one of the reasons that procurements take such a long time in the contracting phase. Federal contracting rules were put in place by Congress who tried to address every contracting injustice ever experienced by their constituents in private industry.

Despite these obstacles that "bureaucrats" have to overcome, the government has been instrumental in contibuting to the needs of the private sector as mentioned by Baron Scarpia. Another success of the federal government is the agricultural extension program working through land grant universities to help American farmers become the most productive farmers in the world.

Instead of always trying to tear down government we should recognize the good that can come from government and private industry working hand in hand.

Tooele, UT

Re: "Spoken by someone who has no knowledge of the contracting policies and procedures of the federal government."

Actually, my last active-duty assignment was to a multi-agency OIF/OEF contract fraud task force [20+ arrests, recovery of $100M+]. I'm quite familiar with "contracting policies and procedures of the federal government."

But that's beside the point.

Unfair government contracting -- as rampant as it is -- is not the anchor to the recession. Rather, it's government's brutal, unfair, unseemly competition with the private sector for capital.

It's unfair because bloated, unaccountable government just takes it. In taxes. No sales pitch, no demonstration of mutual advantage, no persuasion.

Don't pay? Go to jail.

And every nickel brutally expropriated by bloated, unnecessary government is a nickel that then becomes unavailable to the private sector, except as a reward to "deserving" friends of government decision makers, either through the contracting or the appropriations processes.

Good CAN come from private industry and government working together. Now, if we could just convince politicians and faceless, motherless government bureaucrats.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

>Twin Lights
So you're saying that high debt drives up interest rates? Uh, have you noticed where interest rates are right now? Like the interest rates at which government is borrowing? Aren't you essentially saying that cutting spending will conjure up the confidence fairy? Is there any real difference between so called business confidence and Santa Claus?

If the problem was that high interest rates were choking off investment, your argument might have some merit. But interest rates are low, businesses are profitable, and there's plenty of investment capital available for entrepreneurs or business growth. So the deleterious affect of debt has yet to make an appearance in any discernible way. What absolutely is driving unemployment has been budget cuts in state and local government. Those data are not in dispute.

As for cutting debt being what's best in the long run: well, Keynes said it best: "in the long run, we are all of us dead."

one old man
Ogden, UT

There is an excellent article in the Money Watch section of the Wall Street Journal that does a fine job of debunking the GOP myth that Obama has increased government spending. Unfortunately, DN's censors won't allow the link to post here.

So try Googling "Money Watch Wall Street Journal." You'll need to hunt around a bit, but you'll find it. Rex Nutting is the author.

Sandy, UT

Spot on Eric. This debt talk is plain and simple nothing more than setting the stage to default on our obligations, specifically Social Security and Medicare and lowering taxes on the privileged few. Both parties misread the results of the 2010 elections. The issue was jobs jobs jobs and neither took it seriously. It will be through growing the economy that we get it through these times and you can't grow the garden by starving it. If tax cuts worked it would have been done. It will be middle America that gets us out and forcing them into serfdom won't help.

Salt Lake City, UT

Spend during recessions, employ austerity measures during the good years. Even Romney understands it since he basically said as much a few days ago (I'll give him a week to flip his position). There can be some cuts made but the fact is unemployment would be 7.2% if we didn't cut a million gov't jobs the last few years between the various levels of gov't, instead of the 8.1% it is.

Salt Lake City, UT

Re: ECR just as a point of fact the no bid contracting continues today in the Obama administration and to many of the same companies. It is just not reported because of
the media agenda to support this administration no matter how much corruption or incompetence.

Burke, VA

Helloo - Since the media doesn't report contracting abuses by the Obama Administration perhaps you could provide us with some specifics about such violations. Is Halliburton still putting out oil well fires by subcontracting the KBR who subcontrats to Boots and Coots? If you want to waste and excessive overhead check out that contract.

So please, give us some detail with some references. Thank you.

spring street

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.

Ben H
Clearfield, UT

It is true that some public sector employees will lose their jobs. For the longest time, the public sector has been the last bastion of life-long employment. Maybe government will run better and be more efficient if government employees have the same ax hanging over their head that private sector employees have every day. In other words, if you fail to perform to acceptable standards, you may not be employed tomorrow. It's about time.

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