Still stuck in the wrong conversation

STILL STUCK IN THE WRONG CONVERSATION…. I know it’s a lost cause. The debate has already spiraled in a ridiculous direction; Dems didn’t put up much of a fight; and it’s not coming back anytime soon.

But when I see sensible people trying to shine a light on reality, I feel compelled to endorse it. Take Eugene Robinson’s latest column, for example, which dares to note that jobs should matter more than deficits right now.

What is it about the word “jobs” that our nation’s leaders fail to understand? How has the most painful economic crisis in decades somehow escaped their notice? Why do they ignore the issues that Americans care most desperately about?

Listening to the debate in Washington, you’d think the nation was absorbed by the compelling saga of deficit reduction. You’d get the impression that in households across America, parents put their children to bed and then stay up half the night sifting through piles of think-tank reports on the kitchen table, trying to calculate whether there will be enough in the Social Security trust fund to pay benefits beyond 2037.

And you’d be wrong. Those parents are looking at a pile of bills on the kitchen table, trying to decide which ones have to be paid now and which can slide. The question isn’t how to manage health care or retirement costs two decades from now. It’s how the family can make it to the end of the month. […]

Depressed housing prices, an epidemic of foreclosures, 8 million lost jobs — that’s the reality that Americans face every day. Politicians had better start facing it, too.

But they won’t. President Obama, Robinson notes, at least “perceive this disconnect” between what people want/need and what their elected representatives are prioritizing. That’s true. But the president doesn’t intend to invest a lot of time and energy in promoting a jobs agenda that can’t pass, and which much of the country won’t like as soon as someone tells them it involves “more government spending.”

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are willing to deliberately make unemployment worse — remember, “So be it”? — and focus on taking as much money out of the economy as possible, as quickly as possible.

Still, the larger debate between “cut a little” and “cut a lot” is so far from a sensible approach to reality, it’s almost refreshing to see columns like Eugene Robinson’s. It won’t help — voters’ choices were a little too misguided six months ago — but his reminder deserves to be read anyway.