Wow! David Horsey is on a tear. I found absolutely no nits to pick in his latest column, this time on the sequester debacle.
Unwisely, during one of the manufactured budget crises of 2011, President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner agreed that the penalty for failing to reach a comprehensive budget agreement by the end of 2012 would be automatic, across-the-board budget cuts. Their foolish assumption was that no one would be stupid enough to let such a thing happen. As it turns out, plenty of our elected officials are, indeed, that stupid.
Much of the stupidity – though certainly not all – has been exhibited by the most conservative members of the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate, the so-called tea party Republicans. So intent are they on whittling government down to the size it was back in the days of McKinley and the Robber Barons that even the prospect of major cuts in the defense budget did not phase them. Other steep cuts in dollars for scientific and medical research, education, hunger programs, national parks, infrastructure maintenance, food inspection, airport security and a host of other small but useful governmental activities caused them zero concern since, in the tea party version of reality, all those things are simply more big, bad government. ...
Too ignorant to understand the damage they are doing, zealots on the right are congratulating themselves for being so bold and principled. Yet, as irresponsible as Republicans have proven to be, Democrats are not without blame. There are more than a few on their side of the aisle who are pleased that the military budget has taken a big whack. Never before would Republicans have allowed such a thing to happen, so Democrats who have long wanted to reduce the Pentagon’s bloated budget see this as a bit of a gift. ...
If the federal budget is going to be reduced and reallocated, the task needs to be done intelligently and with the full understanding that federal dollars fertilize every aspect of the U.S. economy. Republicans and Democrats in Congress should have been in high gear trying to avoid this self-inflicted damage, but both sides looked way too relaxed as the budget ax fell. [Emphasis added]
And so we got the worst kind of train wreck, one in which the vulnerable will suffer more than even the Defense Department. And Horsey is right: both sides are guilty of deliberate malfeasance.
As Atrios put it, Contractionary Policy Is Contractionary. Without putting money into the economy in a way that helps put Americans back to work, we'll continue to slide backwards, just as the EU is currently demonstrating.
I'm old enough to remember a phrase that wasn't considered crazy at the time: "Prime the Pump." We could use a little of that pump priming right now. Not later.