"Americans don't care about the deficit," says Ari Berman in The Nation. They will, of course, be angry if "the country goes broke," or becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of China. But in poll after poll, they say they "care far more about lowering the unemployment rate than lowering our national deficit and debt." That was even true in the days immediately after the November midterm elections, "which supposedly resulted in a Tea Party mandate." So instead of "foaming at the mouth" about slashing Social Security, Medicare, and other popular but expensive entitlement programs, maybe the "political and media class in Washington" should listen to what the American people are really asking for. Here, an excerpt:

It's astonishing that at a time of 9 percent unemployment, neither party is laying out a roadmap for how to put people back to work and lift the country out of its economic morass. Someone is going to get punished in 2012 for this. Don't say we didn’t warn you! ...

Where is the alternative economic vision? As Paul Krugman noted yesterday, the president "has effectively given up on the idea that the government can do anything to create jobs in a depressed economy. In effect, although without saying so explicitly, the Obama administration has accepted the Republican claim that stimulus failed, and should never be tried again." Obama can spend all the time he wants talking about the deficit and working with Republicans to try to lower it, but if his administration continues to be AWOL on job creation, it's not hard to figure who'll get the blame for ignoring what the public so clearly wants.

Read the full article at The Nation.