Sunday, March 9, 2014
By William Winger
In his Jan. 30 column (“When it comes to the economy, does government matter?”), Alan Caron repeatedly misstated the views of the left. He said, “On the left, government is not only the engine of growth, it actually is the economy.” This is incorrect. Democrats and progressives recognize that the economy spans several sectors.
William Winger is a resident of Portland.
Government is understood to be just one sector; it accounts for about one-sixth of GDP. Mr. Caron’s failure to accurately describe the economic beliefs of the left undermines his credibility.
Democrats and progressives do advocate for a reliable safety net. However, they only call for stimulus spending when the economy is in recession, as it has been for the last six years. These calls for spending ask for a stimulus limited in duration and scope, and designed to be phased out once the economy has recovered.
Mr. Caron says, “Government cannot be the employer of last resort without eventually bankrupting us.” No one is calling for the government to employ the many millions of Americans currently out of work.
However, the federal government has instead been adding to unemployment by reducing its own workforce and reducing its own spending, which has placed significant drag on the recovery.
Since the Employment Act of 1946 was enacted, the federal government has had the duty to try to move the economy toward full employment. Democrats have supported this duty; they have not pursued the policy caricatures Mr. Caron presents.