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Dean Baker on Obama's High Unemployment Budget

By Dean Baker
President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget for 2015, which he sent to Congress on March 4, pushes the debate in a positive direction in several areas. For that, he should be given credit. However, on the most important issue, a budget that would get us back to full employment, his proposals fall way short. Let’s start with the positives. President Obama proposes a four-year infrastructure program that would cost just over $300 billion. This comes to $75 billion a year, or roughly 0.4 percent of GDP. This idea could go far toward improving and upgrading our infrastructure and is much needed for this purpose. It would also provide a boost to the economy. Assuming the typical multiplier of 1.5 times the amount spent for the expected stimulus, the program would create more than 800,000 jobs. A second item on Obama’s agenda is universal pre-kindergarten. This idea would provide a boost to many children from low- and moderate-income families, whose lack of early education can stunt their prospects for social mobility, according to several important studies. It would also make it much easier for their parents to work, since arranging for quality child care is often difficult and expensive. The price tag for this proposal is surprisingly low: only $76 billion over the next decade. That amount comes to 0.18 percent of projected spending over the period. The relatively small price tag for this program would be more widely known if reporters covered the budget in a way that was intended to inform their audience by contextualizing numbers in terms of overall spending.
Read rest here.

For an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute on the budget proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, see here

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