The Week Ahead: Budget battle hobbles economy, again

September 21, 2013 

Many wish it hadn't come to this. Again. Congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama are battling over budgets and debt ceilings with the American economy caught in the middle.

Here we are again in the week ahead. On the eve of a new fiscal year for the federal government, butting up against the country's borrowing limit and Washington continues to be engrossed in a financial fight with no signs of anything resembling a long-term solution. For more than two years, the two sides have been striking Band-Aid bargains for a $16.7 trillion economy. It's as if we've been governed paycheck to paycheck.

Even the centrist and sober Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continues to call out Congress and the White House for their economic in-action. On Wednesday, Bernanke warned, "Federal fiscal policy continues to be an important restraint on growth and a source of downside risk." The alarm bell doesn't ring much louder. The top financial regulator just gave investors notice: The inefficacy of political leaders on the economy is a threat to the very economy to which they are elected stewards.

To be clear, the central bank figures the ceaseless fights over budgets and borrowing limits has robbed America of "hundreds of thousands of

jobs" that otherwise would have been created by now.

Meantime, stock investors are enjoying new market highs. But amid the economic acrimony investors will hear in the new week's debate over spending and borrowing, imagine what lasting resolutions would unleash.

Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami. He is the former co-anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report" on public television.

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