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Bernstein: Don’t Let Deficit Focus Crowd Out Education and Job Creation

February 5, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Testifying today at a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing on “Challenges and Opportunities Facing America’s Schools and Workplaces,” CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein explained that recent budget cuts are threatening the educational support critical to a productive workforce.  Here’s an excerpt:

Clearly, the education of its citizens is time-honored role of government — a “public good” that is essential to building a strong, competitive economy.  It is widely accepted by economists of all political stripes that absent a public role, the nation’s citizenry would be under-educated, damaging both individual and national potential.

However, an objective observer of today’s politics would, I fear, be hard-pressed to see these concerns reflected in our political agenda or our policies.  It is extremely hard to see how careening from crisis-to-crisis — from fiscal cliff to debt ceiling to sequester — supports the private sector need for both a well-educated labor force on the supply side and a stable climate of demand for the goods and services they produce.

In particular, an exclusive focus on deficit reduction appears to have wholly crowded out policies devoted to educational opportunity or job creation.  Worse, spending cuts are threatening to reduce the government’s commitment to supporting education and training while austerity economics is hurting the fragile recovery.

Click here for the full testimony.