Monday, February 25, 2013

Going Out There

So apparently there’s been nothing but a lot of chatter about the sequester since I last paid attention to it, which was last week.  Not that I really expected anything to happen, anyway; the whole premise of the way things work now is to bring everyone to the edge and then come up with some stop-gap measure that puts everything off for a couple of months.  That’s how we got here in the first place.

Keeping up with last week’s news — it’s really no different today than it was on Thursday — here’s what Paul Krugman had to offer.

The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order.

Unfortunately, neither party is proposing that we just call the whole thing off. But the proposal from Senate Democrats at least moves in the right direction, replacing the most destructive spending cuts — those that fall on the most vulnerable members of our society — with tax increases on the wealthy, and delaying austerity in a way that would protect the economy.

House Republicans, on the other hand, want to take everything that’s bad about the sequester and make it worse: canceling cuts in the defense budget, which actually does contain a lot of waste and fraud, and replacing them with severe cuts in aid to America’s neediest. This would hit the nation with a double whammy, reducing growth while increasing injustice.

As always, many pundits want to portray the deadlock over the sequester as a situation in which both sides are at fault, and in which both should give ground. But there’s really no symmetry here. A middle-of-the-road solution would presumably involve a mix of spending cuts and tax increases; well, that’s what Democrats are proposing, while Republicans are adamant that it should be cuts only. And given that the proposed Republican cuts would be even worse than those set to happen under the sequester, it’s hard to see why Democrats should negotiate at all, as opposed to just letting the sequester happen.

So here we go.

And here we go again.  The one thing I’ve noticed about this time around, though, is that the Republicans don’t seem to care if it hurts them politically.  The vast majority of Americans don’t want the sequester to hit, they think the wealthy should pay more in taxes, and they think that a lot of the GOP ideas are whack.  But the Republicans seem to be determined to do anything they can to diminish and humiliate anything that comes out of the White House even if it takes them out to the end of the Kuyper Belt politically.

I’ll give them credit for standing by their principles.

5 barks and woofs on “Going Out There

  1. I will not give the Repugs credit! Giving those idiots credit is what got us into this mess; two wars on a credit card, a drug prescription program on a credit card and tax cuts to the wealthy not paid for. Both wars were off budget. Lee Iacocca said you let the IRS find a corporation operating like that; that is tantamount to running two sets of books. Remember Enron, Comcast?

  2. I’m just waiting for all the “private contractor” Teahadists in northern Virginia to wake up and find that cutting Big Gubmint spending translates into their losing their jobs – because Big Gubmint doesn’t create jobs donchano, so this can’t possibly affect them. It’s going to be (bitterly) amusing to look them in the eye and remind them that they whinged for years about “cutting government” – and now the people they sent to Washington have done as they demanded, so shouldn’t they be happy?

    Metro DC is queued up for the kind of crushing readjustment that the rest of the country has been seeing for nearly five years. Maybe with their neighbors finally feeling the pinch, the Beltway talking heads will finally get what it’s been like for the rest of us. I’m not holding my breath that DC will notice much, but it will be refreshing to hear about how horrible it is to be laid off, where on Earth they’re going to find new jobs, what the BLEEP is going on with their unemployment insurance, and (maybe) what were they thinking when they required their Congresscritters to cut spending.

    I expect they’ll take notice when their fat paychecks go away and the value of their new McMansion drops 30% in the first six months.

  3. Personally, I do not thing the right wing is holding to principles. I believe they are beholden to their paymasters – a very different thing.

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