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A Decision That Looks Even Worse in Retrospect

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In February, when the debate over the economic stimulus package was at its height, a handful of "centrist" Senate Republicans said they'd block a vote on recovery efforts unless the majority agreed to slash over $100 billion from the bill. The group, which didn't have any specific policy goals in mind and simply liked the idea of a small bill, specifically targeted $40 billion in proposed aid to states. Helping rescue states, Sen. Collins & Co. said, does not stimulate the economy, and as such doesn't belong in the legislation. Democratic leaders reluctantly went along -- they weren't given a choice since Republicans refused to give the bill an up-or-down vote -- and the $40 billion in state aid was eliminated.

At the time, it seemed like a very bad idea. That's because it was a very bad idea.

In the past, government hiring had managed to somewhat offset losses in the private sector, but government jobs declined by 53,000, with the biggest number of cuts on the local and state levels. Even the Postal Service, which is included in the public-sector job statistics, dropped 5,300 jobs.

"The major surprise came from the public sector, where every level of government cut back," Naroff said. "The budget crises at the state and local levels have caused an awful lot of belt-tightening."

As Atrios reminded the Senate this morning, "Thanks for compromising."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

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Filed: Timeline
In February, when the debate over the economic stimulus package was at its height, a handful of "centrist" Senate Republicans said they'd block a vote on recovery efforts unless the majority agreed to slash over $100 billion from the bill. The group, which didn't have any specific policy goals in mind and simply liked the idea of a small bill, specifically targeted $40 billion in proposed aid to states. Helping rescue states, Sen. Collins & Co. said, does not stimulate the economy, and as such doesn't belong in the legislation. Democratic leaders reluctantly went along -- they weren't given a choice since Republicans refused to give the bill an up-or-down vote -- and the $40 billion in state aid was eliminated.

At the time, it seemed like a very bad idea. That's because it was a very bad idea.

In the past, government hiring had managed to somewhat offset losses in the private sector, but government jobs declined by 53,000, with the biggest number of cuts on the local and state levels. Even the Postal Service, which is included in the public-sector job statistics, dropped 5,300 jobs.

"The major surprise came from the public sector, where every level of government cut back," Naroff said. "The budget crises at the state and local levels have caused an awful lot of belt-tightening."

As Atrios reminded the Senate this morning, "Thanks for compromising."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

I tend to disagree with this take. Government jobs - outside of education and public safety sectors - is not what we need. Government investments (infrastructure, etc.) that spur private sector jobs is what we should be looking for. State and local governments are usually overstaffed - the stories I read about state and local offices here in FL are some scary shite. There's so much waste going on that it's not even funny. I don't want to hear them cry for more funding. They need to cut back - even and especially in this time.

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