Monday, August 26, 2013

Hamster Wheel of Drama

It shouldn't be all that difficult to understand. Investment begets growth. When we invest in our people and our communities, we grow our economy.

But for the last two years, the federal government has essentially been divesting from our economy. And as a result, economic growth has been more sluggish and inconsistent than it could be. While the ongoing austerity regime has not been enough to throw us into another recession (at least for now), it has been complicating the climb out of the last one.

So why are we stuck in this seemingly endless hamster wheel of austerity? It's not about the merits of the policy. Rather, it's about the heat of the politics. And as Salon's Brian Beutler notes, Congressional Republican "leaders" are now eyeing an extension of the austerity regime as a twisted "consolation prize" for losing the other fall budget battles.

Sequestration has always been a tough problem. Democrats hate what it’s doing to investments across the government, particularly its indiscriminate cuts to programs for the poor and medical research funds. Republicans don’t like it much either. But most of them, including party leaders, are unwilling to consider a replacement that includes even a penny of revenue collected by tightening or closing tax loopholes benefiting top earners. That, and it’s also kind of a trophy for them — a totem they can point to when the tribe becomes depressed to remind of the time they really stuck it to President Obama. [...]

That won’t constitute a new concession from Obama so much as an ongoing one. But if forcing Obama to choose between the House GOP’s government spending plan and quasi-permanent sequestration is the party’s victory badge in the budget wars, they’re going to be loath to give it up in a negotiated settlement.

Since the usual G-O-TEA suspects can't do anything productive, they're lauding austerity as their greatest "accomplishment". And they refuse to let it go, regardless of its harmful effects on the economy.

So now, we're stuck in this hamster wheel of austerity. And even though we know we have to get out of it to let our economy heal, we can't figure out how to do so with so many intransigent G-O-TEA critters in Congress. It's the manufactured crisis that continues to haunt us.

For all those Republican Members of Congress who claim they're "tired of the drama", they have put us into this hamster wheel of drama. So how do we get out of it?

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