Republicans are once again harping on the deficit like it actually means something in the short term. In their attempt to be the oppositional party, they have taken up the failed notions of Herbert Hoover in trying to balance the budget at the time of a severe economic downturn. Mainstream economists (I am still not sure why we are listening to them given recent events...) acknowledge that the actions of Hoover certainly increased both the depth and length of the Great Depression. Most economists recognize that short term spending to stimulate lending and thus allow capital for projects is a key step for any recovery.
In related news, Bushvilles are springing up across the country. I am still amazed that people don't understand that when you cut social services and depend on private charity you are setting yourself up for disaster. Many private charities and non-profits depend on donations or membership fees which decrease in a downturn, particularly one as severe as this. Combined with a lack of adequate social services, it is not surprising that people are having to turn to tent cities in hopes of weathering this storm.
The most disheartening thing about this recent trend is that once someone becomes homeless it often begins a cycle that is difficult to break. Because they have no permanent address it is extremely hard to get a job; without a job, income is difficult to come by (except through illegal and often dangerous means). This is compounded by the rapidly rising unemployment rate. While no one is a fan of paying higher taxes, clearly the U.S. is failing it citizens in a variety of ways. Demanding these tent cities be removed only pushes these people out of the small amount of safety they had as a group. While some are saying we are reaching the bottom of the downturn, I remain skeptical. For all our sakes, I hope they are right.