Morning Must Reads: Fiscal Austerity Means Higher Taxes, Job Losses, Fewer Resources to Help Abused Kids

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released new estimates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's impact on employment and output (the quantity of goods and services in the economy). Commenting on the new ARRA estimates, Paul Krugman argues that the U.S. has been practicing austerity since the middle of 2010.

  • Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal — The Big Drag:

...the U.S. federal government has been practicing destructive fiscal austerity since the middle of 2010 (and that’s not even talking about what’s happening at the state and local level). Here’s the average of CBO's high and low estimates of the impact of the ARRA on the level (not the rate of growth) of [Gross Domestic Product] by quarter:

Failing to do more to boost employment growth means tax revenues remain depressed for state and local governments. And this means higher local taxes and more layoffs at a time when the unemployment rate remains higher in most cities and counties in Pennsylvania than it was even at the worst of the last two recessions.

Here is the summary of public-sector job losses in Pennsylvania since October 2010:

What follows are the tax increases and public-sector job cuts in JUST THIS MORNING'S NEWS!

The South Middleton School Board adopted a resolution Monday night limiting a tax increase for the 2012-13 school year to no more than 1.7 percent...

Drafts indicate that with no tax increase, the budget could range from having a $900,000 deficit to a surplus of $28,000, depending on state budgeting actions and health care costs.

After a week’s delay, the Lower Swatara Township commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday night on a proposed budget for 2012 that would increase real estate taxes for the first time since 2004.

The $4.7 million spending plan would avoid cutting staff or services but would increase real estate taxes from 2.5 mills to 3.10 mills, a 24 percent increase.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board has approved changes aimed at making the district more financially sustainable, including closing seven schools, opening a new elementary school, eliminating single-gender classes at Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12, selling two school buildings and changing some school feeder patterns...

Ultimately, the changes are part of a plan that calls for eliminating about 400 school-based and central office positions to stem the district's growing operating deficit.

Calls to the state's child abuse hotline soared right after the Pennsylvania State University child sex abuse scandal broke and then started to drop back. But experts worry that the existing system may not be up to handling even normal demands.

In Pennsylvania, there are usually about 460 calls to a child abuse hotline per day, or 2,300 per five-day week, state Department Public Welfare spokeswoman Carey Miller said. Calls jumped to almost 1,000 per day after the news of abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, she said...

Yet the hotline, called ChildLine, already had staffing and technology problems even before the Penn State scandal, said Cathleen Palm, executive director of the Protect Our Children Committee.

And while everyone seems to agree that more needs to be done to protect children, funding for caseworkers has been cut.

State aid for child welfare operations was slashed in this fiscal year by $45 million, or about 4 percent.

Hundreds turned out to a public meeting Tuesday to voice opposition to the possible closing of the U.S. Postal Service's Scranton Processing and Distribution facility, a move that could cost more than 100 postal workers their jobs.

Finally, this morning the NewsHour on PBS has a story on poverty in the City of Reading:

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