Obama Administration Has No Use for WPA-Type Programs that Would Help Poor and Unemployed

 David Dayen catches Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, making an astonishing admission:

There will be no WPA-type programs in our near future. There was no appetite for them in the Obama admin in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and there's a lot less now. The reasons for that are interesting and I'll speak to them another day. But it ain't happening.
It's astonishing not because it's a surprise that the Obama administration has no interest in, as Paul Krugman suggests, instituting "WPA-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads, which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt"—nothing could be less surprising than Obama's disinterest in progressive economic policy—but because it's astonishing to see a former administration official confirm that lack of disinterest so bluntly.

D-Day underlines this point:
[O]n a WPA program, Bernstein explicitly says it was the White House, not Republicans, who had no appetite for direct, public job creation during the first term. Bernstein says he made the arguments about public works jobs inside the White House, but he was clearly outvoted. He doesn't give the arguments made in response, tantalizingly alluding to "interesting" reasons that he will "speak to another day." But he says very clearly that the reason we did all of this hoops-jumping and nudging in the stimulus package rather than just paying people to work at jobs that needed to be done was a philosophical decision inside the White House. In a sense we already knew this, but it's important that a former White House insider re-emphasized it.
If "there is no appetite" for the kind of economic policy that actually makes meaningful differences in the lives of USians (by which I mean actual people, not the corporations granted personhood by our contemptible Supreme Court) even in the White House of a Democrat (no less one who promised "hope" and "change"), we are in real trouble.

That is to say: We are in real trouble.

Shakesville / By Melissa McEwan

Posted at May 31, 2011, 5:34am

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