There are signs of hope in the job market after the massive layoffs of the coronavirus crisis. But a new crisis is looming in state and local governments, which are facing drastic revenue shortfalls and will be forced to cut services and jobs. Even when the private sector recovers, the public sector will lag, and will become a drag on overall economic growth.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are failing to take the looming public sector job crisis seriously.
On the Republican side, the focus is on profligate “blue” states that mismanaged their budgets and pensions for years, and now want the rest of the country to bail them out. It is hard to have sympathy for Illinois, for example, where Democrats fought former Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed reforms. They replaced him with Democrat J. B. Pritzker, who has imposed draconian stay-at-home orders and now comes, cap in hand, to the federal taxpayer.
But not every Democrat-run state has been quite as irresponsible. California has many backward policies, but former Gov. Jerry Brown did at least impose a modicum of fiscal discipline, leaving his successor, Gavin Newsom, with a surplus and a rainy-day fund. Even that will not be enough to cover the coming shortfall — and the need is real.
On the Democrat side, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is playing her usual games. Rather than propose a bill that can pass with bipartisan support, she passed a $3 trillion, 1,815-page monstrosity filled with pork that has nothing to do with economic relief, and poison pills like “ballot harvesting.”
When members of her own party balked, she warned them they will face the wrath of their constituents at home for not bringing them money from Washington, essentially holding them hostage.
Pelosi’s cynical approach was designed to force Republicans to vote against the bill, so that she could tell the media that President Donald Trump and his party don’t care about cops, teachers, and bus drivers.
Of course, if Pelosi really cared, she would have proposed a “clean” bill funding the urgent needs of state and local governments, leaving out pet projects and long-term liabilities. It would have been law by now.
Republicans and Democrats need to wake up. State and local governments need a lifeline to save jobs. In addition, Congress should fund an infrastructure program that takes up the slack in the job market, providing jobs and training.
Reasonable conditions should be attached. States should have to spend the money on jobs and services, not past debts. “Sanctuary cities” are a constitutional abomination and must end. But a compromise is needed. Time is running out.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.