Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It Takes a Sequestration of Billions to Hold the U.S. Back

If you've been following the story on the budget sequester cuts, you've probably heard about how most economists predict it will result in yet another self-inflicted wound to the economy. The following graph from the Bipartisan Policy Center sums up the projected effects of the sequester cuts:

The budget sequester: not simply just a public sector enemy...

Here's another graph from the Bipartisan Policy Center showing how little these sequester cuts will actually change our long-term budget picture.

Interestingly, some economic analysts like Matt Yglesias, have argued that liberals should learn to love the sequestration cuts because roughly 50% of the reductions are cuts to Defense:

The thinking is this frees up the budget in the future to address other liberal priorities. I'm a little skeptical of this reasoning, though, since Defense spending ultimately always seems to increase. But funding for programs like Head Start, et al, may not be re-appropriated, even during boom times. Again, the best solution is to do none of the cuts right now.

If the economy does stall badly or even slips back into recession it won't be due to unforeseen circumstances; it will be because of misguided policy choices. History will not be kind to the elected officials who decided, in spite of high long-term unemployment and borrowing costs near 0% (yes, American debt repayment is considered such a sure thing to the rest of the world that they are willing to lend us money at practically 0% interest), that long-term fiscal policy was more important than short-term economic growth and job creation.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mission of Boehner

The ballad of Johnny Boehner (swampland.time.com)

People will blame Congressional Republicans much more than President Obama and Congressional Democrats by wide margins, according to recent polls, if the sequestration cuts take place and the economy lags.

In spite of a last minute attempt to re-brand these unpopular spending cuts as Obama's cuts (pictured above*), the public is not falling for it. The Republican party has spent four years preaching austerity. You can't suddenly reverse yourself and have any credibility on the issue. That was their brand and Speaker Boehner and the Tea Party was boasting about these budget cuts not too long ago. And at the time Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted.

This is yet another reminder that the ideology the Republicans have espoused in recent years is incredibly unpopular outside the bubble. So Boehner and the GOP's goal now is to try to shift the blame to President Obama.

Good luck with that.

* Is this the first time a political re-branding campaign had the slogan represented by a Twitter hashtag?

I'm Back


Shortly after the election in November, I figured it was a good time to take a break from blogging and tweeting about politics for a little while.  I thought it'd be "a few weeks", but then in between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday, I had a bout with the flu. So between that, and a combination of an increased workload at my day job, the NFL playoffs (priorities!), and simply just not having anything witty to add to the daily political conversation has resulted in three months of inactivity.

Anyhow, I'm back again now. And I hope to post much more frequently. So please keep checking back from time to time and continue following me on Twitter. Thanks for reading.