Economists of all stripes know that investment is the fundamental cause of economic growth and a steadily increasing standard of living. But stripes can suit a lot of different styles, which brings us to the current debate over federal budget policy.
Even in the context of offering deficit reduction, the president’s FY 2012 budget request sports bold stripes. He dramatically increases investments to modernize and expand transportation infrastructure and boost science and research for new technologies and innovation. These investments will spawn new jobs and economic industries and spur competitiveness and innovation in American businesses and the productivity of American workers when the new fiscal year begins in October.
In contrast, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) came dressed for tea in his wildest polka-dot and plaid ensemble. Last week, the chairman introduced a plan to slash $100 billion in the remaining months of FY 2011, cuts that include reductions in education, innovation for energy efficiency and independence, health and life sciences technologies, infrastructure modernization, and export development. It’s a style Rep. Rogers hopes to impose on the FY 2012 budget, too—a style that suits hardly anybody.
With 15 million people unemployed and looking for work, both the president’s deficit reduction and Rep. Rogers’ spending cuts will mean hardship for many families across the country. But the president’s style reflects his understanding that the government plays a critical role in providing public investments and creating incentives and opportunities for private investment. The president offers a budget that prioritizes critical investments in infrastructure, innovation, and education, laying a foundation for the nation’s economic future. Rep. Rogers and his conservative allies do just the opposite.
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