Budget cuts leave workers in the lurch

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 

Workshop reporter Kat Aaron took a look at cuts to unemployment benefits, cash assistance, child care and job training, in a piece for the American Prospect: 

Last week, the housing market took another dive. Unemployment remained at about 9 percent, where it's hovered since January, and the economy added just 54,000 jobs — far fewer than expected. The private sector added 83,000 new jobs, but continued government layoffs pushed the net number down.

But you won't hear much about the housing and hiring crisis from politicians in Washington and in statehouses across the country, which remain focused on cutting deficits rather than addressing — or even mentioning — these problems. They are cutting programs meant to jump-start the economy as well as programs on which struggling people depend: unemployment benefits, welfare benefits, retraining funds and child-care subsidies. This will leave American workers across the country stranded and could hamper the faltering recovery.


With a projected deficit of $1.5 trillion in 2011, these cuts might seem inevitable. But this isn't just an issue of balancing a ledger, because America has wealth to draw on. Corporate profits are 20 percent higher than they were before the recession. And per-capita income is growing steadily, too: It's projected to grow more than 60 percent over the next three decades, just about as much as it did over the last 30 years. If corporations are clearing double-digit profits and incomes are on the rise, why is the federal government so broke? "There's no fundamental economic issue here," says Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. "It's just a matter of politics and policies that are making government less able to provide."

Read the complete piece online here.

What Went Wrong

Donald Barlett and James Steele are revisiting America: What Went Wrong, their landmark 1991 newspaper series, in a new project with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Over the next year, the project team will examine how four decades of public policy has shaped America's ongoing economic crisis.


Back Story

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Donald Barlett and James Steele talk about the project, and why they decided to revisit a book they wrote two decades ago, in a series of video clips produced by the Workshop.

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Read an Excerpt

The Betrayal of the American Dream on Google Books

The Betrayal of the American Dream on Google Books

Check out the first chapter of Barlett and Steele's 2012 book here.