Sunday, February 24, 2013

The 5:22 to Sequestration Station

You can change here for Dysfunction Junction, or take the local, making all stops to Interminable Terminal. Have your tickets ready. If you can afford them.

This latest skirmish over the economy and the role of government is highlighting more than just the usual differences between the parties. It's uncovering the stripped-bare disdain the Republicans have for negotiating with the president and their utter lack of gravity when it comes to exchanging ideas. Yes, the left does not want Obama to back down on anything related to Medicare or Social Security or balancing budget cuts with revenue, but when the other party simply refuses to meet you halfway, they cease to be a responsible partner.

Up to now, the GOP criticism of Obama was that he was playing politics with the sequester, didn't have a specific plan to confront it, and was only looking to blame the Republicans for their obstinacy. And besides which, some said, the cuts will not be as bad as advertised. In fact, they won't be bad at all.

Well, here comes the reality. Governors of both parties are getting plenty nervous about the effects the cuts will have on their still-fragile budgets. They won't bring the government to a standstill, nor will they shut down Washington, which I believe to be the secret Republican fantasy, but they will do something worse. They will be a nuisance and a slow trickle of bad news. They will deny people who need certain services what they need. They might result in layoffs at the state and local levels. In short, they will drain away confidence at a time when we need it to increase. But if that's what the GOP wants, then they'll get it.

If government by enforced austerity was a theory, then I could see that implementing it could have some positive attributes. But all we need to do is look at Europe to see the real world application of destructive government pullbacks. It ain't pretty, and it's getting worse. So why continue to push it? Because the Republican Party is bent not only on destroying itself, but on sticking with ideology at the expense of common sense. I do not question anyone's patriotism or call them disloyal in the way that Senator Ted Cruz did to Chuck Hagel, but I do wonder what motivates the right to follow policies that will have such a negative effect on the country.

I suppose that President Obama's, and the Democrats', worst nightmare would be that the sequester takes effect and the effect is minimal and possibly positive. That would embolden Republicans to continue to push for even more cuts, though not to the military I'm sure, and would discredit and undercut the left's economic arguments. I'm not gambling on that outcome. The economy needs more money to circulate and get spent, not less. Exactly the opposite will begin happening on Friday.

All aboard.

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