Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sequester FAIL

What a month this has been. Just a month ago, Mark Amodei said this. Remember what he declared in Elko?

“I am tired of the drama,” U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei told an audience in the Red Lion Inn & Casino. “I’m full up on drama. Drama doesn’t get anything done.”

Yet what are he & his Republican colleagues in Congress giving us? Oh, just $85 BILLION worth of unnecessary & destructive drama!

Earlier today, Senate Republicans filibustered the Democratic Sequester alternative. This was shortly after their own Sequester finesse was voted down 38-62. And after the House finally passed VAWA renewal, it went on an extended weekend break.

Here's something to remember.

I'd encourage folks to keep a rhetorical angle to this in mind. It's safe to assume that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his allies will soon argue, if they haven't already, that Republicans shouldn't be blamed because neither chamber passed an alternative plan, even after Boehner demanded the Senate do all the work(as if the House Speaker can credibly give orders to the Senate).

But that argument will be misleading, to put it mildly. Senate Democrats came up with a credible compromise, brought it to the floor, held a vote, and found that a majority of the chamber supports the Democratic alternative. House Republicans, meanwhile, refused to craft a compromise, chose not to bring a bill to the floor, didn't hold a vote, and was afraid to find out whether a GOP alternative could get majority support.

The bottom line hasn't changed all month: one side is open to negotiation and compromise; one side isn't. When blame-both-sides-for-everything pundits consider who bears responsibility for failure, it seems no other detail has any relevance at all.

And here's the ugly wake-up call we're in for.

Yes, there will be some deficit reduction, but it will come at the cost of growth and employment. You don’t have to be a deficit dove to see that this is a poor trade. When given a choice between stronger growth and higher deficits, it’s always better to take the former; with growth there’s more space for fiscal adjustment, on account of higher revenues and greater economic activity. By contrast, sacrificing growth to deficit reduction is a sure way to harm the economy -- with higher unemployment --without real improvement to the country’s fiscal position. Any “confidence” gained by reducing deficits is outweighed by the overall drag of a slower economy.

Which is why the best policy for sequestration has always been to repeal the measure. We’ve done a substantial amount to stabilize the debt over the last two years. Given a 50-50 split of spending cuts and new revenues, you only need $120 billion a year of deficit reduction to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at 73 percent by 2022. We can delay that for several years while the economy recovers, and still be in good shape for the near-future.

Yet that's deemed "irresponsible" on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, what's considered "responsible" by "tea party" darlings and numerous Beltway media pundits is essentially a self-induced double-dip recession. And remember that the deficit can't be cut by all that much if there isn't enough revenue to collect.

It's become increasingly obvious that austerity is harming economic recovery. So why are we getting even more of it? This is the greatest EPIC FAIL of the year... And we're only 1/6 of our way into 2013!

This "Sequester Showdown" just reeks of pure madness. It's just too bad that we have to suffer the consequences while Congress continues debating how much more austerity madness to inflict on the nation.

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