By Dan Kervick
On Tuesday night, President Obama will give the first State of the Union message of his second term. Preliminary indications from Washington are that the President will attempt to shift some attention back to jobs and economic growth. But similar White House moves to address jobs and the economy over the past four years have been half-hearted and politically feeble. It is likely that the jobs message delivered by Obama will be overshadowed and weighed down by the endless and destructive partisan battles over our long-term budget position and Washington’s misguided plans for budget austerity and fiscal contraction. Obama came into office extolling “the fierce urgency of now” – but Washington’s mystifying obsessions with the federal debt and impossible projections of future budget deficits have moved the beltway agenda from the fierce urgencies of 2013 to the unknowable contingencies of 2035. The unemployed are trapped despairing and jobless here in 2013, choking on the spreadsheets of dueling beltway actuaries.