Congress Steps In It

Now Congress has done it. Basically, sequestration will cause huge and unnecessary problems in government and in the economy at large from top to bottom, just as a slow recovery appeared. That, apparently, is exactly what Republicans want, because it will reduce government spending and taxes will not be raised to help pay for Mr. Bush’s two long wars and his multi-billion dollar gifts to the very rich. It will only hurt the rest of us, the unworthy 95% or so.

It makes no difference to Republicans that we already have low taxes, and government spending is actually decreasing under Obama. It makes no difference that a large majority of Americans disapprove of most of what the sequestration will bring. It is Republicans’ false but firm belief that our spending is out of control, and less tax is always good. They have determined that the best plan is to shoot ourselves in the foot on purpose.

Republicans have determined that the best plan
is to shoot ourselves in the foot on purpose.

They don’t care that what they are doing comes with an ironclad guarantee that the economy will be worsened, that unemployment will rise again, that education will again be curtailed along with other state services, and a number of federal service reductions will result in lost revenue, a budget increase, and higher debt. As long as we follow the edict like lemmings, all will be well.

Andrew Fieldhouse explains a few of the results we can expect, and you’ve probably already seen some of the numerous articles and columns, including this one by Charles M. Blow explaining exactly why the whole thing is a terrible idea that will not accomplish anything good, not even what Republicans say it will. The only hint of a silver lining is that spending on warmongering will take a small but significant hit, something that has been needed for a quarter century or more.

Austerity comes with an ironclad guarantee
that the economy will be worsened.

I don’t understand why Republicans believe it’s even possible to have a tiny government in a nation of 315-million people, let alone believe that tiny is the ideal. Do they not understand that there are certain economies of scale? Surely they understand that spreading risk is better than buying insurance individually. Surely they don’t believe that there should be no government control over the certification of doctors, or CPAs. Should we not all be required to pass a test in order to pilot a 4,000 pound car among pedestrians? It’s also mysterious that they are enthusiastic about reducing our income, but not one of them is proposing a reduction of their own salary or perks, or their staff, let alone reducing the size of the House.

The President is scare-mongering, they claim. There will not be the loss of more than two million jobs that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts. There will be no reductions in air traffic control, various kinds of safety inspections, and so on.

Republicans want a government
that is small and inadequate.

But there will. Every time a program of austerity has been imposed on a country, anywhere, at any time, the effect has been negative, if not severe. The economy contracts as money needed for daily operation is extracted in order to service debt, which itself is often imposed from without. And as many economists have pointed out, reducing debt in bad economic times makes everything worse. Ask the EU nations. Every single one of them in an austerity program has suffered increasing unemployment, reduced tax revenue, and all the rest, and none of them are recovering. Some are on the verge of a double- or triple-dip recession.


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