During a week in which the austerity policies of the Euro Zone were dealt clear electoral repudiations, Republicans have moved forward with plans to impose their own brand of austerity here in the United States.
France, Greece and Germany saw pro-austerity leaders lose elections this weekend following months of economic misery fed by the spreading contagion of anti-spending policy. In two years, these cuts only yielded more pain, taking money from the pockets of workers and thus deepening recessions.
That fever has caught here in the States, too, at least among the right wing, but has been largely held at bay by the Democrat president. (We say "largely" because Obama did bow to Republican pressure to cut public sector payrolls and limit stimulus packaging, thus, Keynesian economists say, prolonging the current recession.)
Now House Republicans are proposing to cut hundreds of billions in food aid, health care and other social services mainly aimed at the poor as a means of sidestepping the consequences of their failure to deal. This proposal represents an abandonment of last year's unsuccessful deficit-reduction deal, in which the parties attempted to force themselves into cooperation by creating the super committee. That plan came with a built-in incentive to reach a deal: Sequestration, mandated cuts in the absence of compromise that neither party could stomach. In this case, Republicans are attempting to undo their half of the bad deal, $1.2 trillion in Pentagon cuts over the next decade.
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Of course, it's all a game. Obama won't sign whatever awful bill the GOP produces, and they know it. Yet it's interesting to see the extent to which Republicans are willing to double- and quadruple-down on austerity. They must believe this to be a winning battle in November. For what it's worth, Europeans thought otherwise, but then, they lived through the disasterous consequences. Whether we must do the same has yet to be determined.
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