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Last September, the Montana Department of Labor released a job report showing an increase in jobs for the first time. The state and federal programs were working. The private sector produced 300 more jobs in the state for that month. However, something else was also working. Because of the austerity pushed primarily by the Republicans, we lost 130 jobs in the public sector that same month.

It seems that whenever Democratic policies start to make a little progress, Republican policies set us back. Then, of course, Republicans loudly proclaim the Democratic policies are not working. In September, it was three steps forward and nearly 1-1/2 back.

The big issue is not whether the stimulus package worked, but whether we did enough stimulus. Almost every economist acknowledges that. Because the recession of 2008 was so severe, it takes time and a larger effort to succeed. It took nearly 10 years and a world war to pull us out of the Great Depression of 1932.

I don't disagree with the importance of getting a handle on the growing federal debt. I argued that all through the Reagan and Bush years, but Republicans were not interested then. The question, however, is timing. We should not cut government budgets now and lay off people, which just puts more people on unemployment. Instead, we should support programs that are proven effective in adding jobs but then put increased taxes and cuts in spending in place now to take effect several years from now when we get our feet on the ground.

It is simple to do the right thing. This three steps forward and 1-1/2 steps back has got to stop. It is time to work together.

Thomas E. Towe

Billings

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