Whenever I hear someone say, "We've got to make the tough, painful choices to balance the budget" I know that I needn't waste any more time listening to that person. He's not really interested in balancing the budget, he's interested in imagining himself as someone who is "tough." And he's so preoccupied with this need to feel "tough" that he is unwilling to do the arithmetic and see that the most urgent need when it comes to balancing the budget is not a "painful choice" but the choice to ease pain. Putting people back to work is not a painful choice. It's what those people want -- what they long for, hope for and pray for. It makes people happy and actually solves the problem.
It is not surprising to me that sympathetic emotion and the most pragmatic course of action are the same. That's because the urge to work in co-operation, and to relieve suffering are evolved human mechanisms to ensure survival. Suppressing those urges might require emotional fortitude - being 'tough' - but it's like the fortitude required to cut your own arm off. 99 times out of 100 it's a very bad idea.