Looks that way. We've all witnessed what the policy of "austerity" has done to nations in Europe and beyond. Austerity is clearly a failed policy, embraced only by the right. But we're letting it kick in, starting tomorrow at a pace -- the New York Times points out -- equaling the pace during demobilization following our retreat from Vietnam or our decision to end the cold war.
... The turn toward austerity is set to accelerate on Friday if the mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration start to take effect as scheduled. Those cuts would join an earlier round of deficit reduction measures passed in 2011 and the wind-down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that already have reduced the federal government’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product by almost 7 percent in the last two years.
The cuts may be felt more deeply because state and local governments — which expanded rapidly during earlier rounds of federal reductions in the 1970s and the 1990s, offsetting much of the impact — have also been cutting back.
Federal, state and local governments now employ 500,000 fewer workers than they did on the eve of the recession in 2007, the longest and deepest decline in total government employment since the aftermath of World War II. ...NYT
Indeed. "Austerity" is no longer a policy embraced by the tetched in far-off Washington and rejected by the sane. It's here; it's upon us. And all because the Republican party, a sore loser, has constructed a horror show that allows indiscriminate cuts to kick in.
“History shows that discretionary fiscal policy often helps to support a recovery,” Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said in a recent speech. “Discretionary fiscal policy this time has actually acted to restrain the recovery.”
She added: “I expect that discretionary fiscal policy will continue to be a headwind for the recovery for some time, instead of the tail wind it has been in the past.”...NYT
Think about this for a moment: the coming austerity will hit Democrats harder than Republicans.
How's that? Well, where do Republican votes come from? The 'burbs and rural areas. Where do Democratic votes coming from? Big cities. Guess which areas will be hardest hit.
... Interviews with more than a dozen state and municipal leaders coast to coast show that the sequester would afflict big cities and military communities — because of cuts to social programs and defense — far more than middle-class suburbs or rural areas. The disparity in some ways mirrors the nation’s electoral divide between Democrats and Republicans.
The discrepancies help explain why House Republicans — many of whom represent rural and outer suburban districts — feel little urgency to strike a deal with Obama and avert the sequester. They also suggest that the misery expected Friday would not be universal, meaning that public outcry may not be loud or widespread enough to propel Washington toward a quick solution. ...WaPo
David Ignatius, one of the few editorial writers WaPo should be proud of, lays it on the line.
Some of us can recall the helpless feeling of being in a vehicle driven by someone who is intoxicated. If you’re like me, you don’t want to cause a scene unless the driving is really erratic. But there comes a moment when you need to say: Stop the car. You’re going to hurt someone. Hand over the keys. We have a political system that is the equivalent of a drunk driver. The primary culprits are the House Republicans. They are so intoxicated with their own ideology that they are ready to drive the nation’s car off the road. ...Ignatius,WaPo
Ignatius doesn't fly to Obama's defense, either. I think he's got Obama exactly right.
... Obama has chosen to be co-dependent, as psychologists describe those who foster the destructive behavior of others. ...Ignatius,WaPo
But this hardly means both sides are equally to blame. Obama may have been the first to propose the sequester as a punishment to both sides, but it's the Republicans who turned the sequester from threat to reality.
First the Republicans were prepared to shut down the government and damage the national credit rating with their showdown over the debt ceiling; then they were careening toward the “fiscal cliff.” This isn’t a legislative tactic anymore; it’s an addiction. ...Ignatius, WaPo
"If the president needs some tweaks and adjustments, the Republican Party is pretty much in need of a major makeover."
-- Pollster Fred Yang, commenting on the findings in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The Wall Street Journal poll also shows a slight dip in Obama's approval rating since the inauguration, but nothing significant. Still...
“The poll points to significant vulnerabilities for the president” heading in next year’s midterm elections, says McInturff, the GOP pollster.Democratic pollster Yang adds: “The transition from campaigning to governing hasn’t brightened the public’s mood.”
That said, strong majorities support the broad outlines of Obama’s top domestic priorities – on immigration, gun control and raising the minimum wage. ...WSJ