The employment report from the Labor Department, issued Friday morning, reinforced the importance of Congress and the White House managing well the looming collection of budget challenges, known as the "fiscal cliff." President Obama indicated that the matter could be resolved rather quickly. He is right in theory. The trick will be setting the priorities in a sound order ... .
Today, there are four million fewer jobs than when the recession began in late 2007. Two-fifths of the unemployed have been seeking work for 27 weeks or longer. The previous high for this figure during the past 60 years was 26 percent in June 1983 ... .
All of this points, again, to the type of recession the country suffered, one featuring the collapse of a financial bubble. These downturns almost always involve a long, slow recovery, as people repair their finances and seek to restore their assets. For Congress and the White House, the first priority must be to do no harm to the fragile recovery. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that a failure to ease the approaching tax increases and spending reductions would likely the send the economy into another recession ... .
The country doesn't face something as dramatic as a steep cliff at the end of the month. The impact would be gradual, allowing room for negotiation into the new year. Yet the psychology is crucial, Washington taking command, more or less.