The "sequester" -- mindless, across-the-board spending cuts designed purposefully to be abhorrent to both political parties -- now seems likely to go into effect on March 1. The sequester cuts added to spending cuts and tax increases already scheduled will slow growth and cost jobs. Government austerity has already contributed to the worst recovery in post-World War II history. Why would the U.S. repeat this folly, despite warnings from the IMF and Federal Reserve officials? Every calamity has many authors -- Obama's premature turn to deficit reduction in 2009, the Tea Party zealots, a hapless and clueless Republican congressional leadership and more. One major contribution comes from the money and monomania of Pete Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire who has committed about half a billion bucks rousing hysteria about deficits and debt.
Reporters need to ask Obama two series of questions. Who insisted on creating the fiscal cliff, threatened Republicans in Fall 2011 when they wanted to eliminate or reduce it, and after the "failure" of the November 2011 "super committee" to reach a deal to inflict even greater austerity on the nation, made a veto threat to block a Republican proposal to eliminate or delay the fiscal cliff? The answer is: Obama. Obama's driving role in creating and maintaining the "fiscal cliff" makes his warning of the necessity of avoiding "self-inflicted wounds" (recession by austerity) imposed by the fiscal cliff another proof of our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody. We need to convince Obama to follow his own advice and eliminate the self-inflicted wound (recession) by eliminating, not delaying, the fiscal cliff and safeguarding the safety net.
President Obama and the Democrats' willingness to accept cuts to Social Security in the form of the gimmicky "chained CPI" right after an election where no candidate for federal office campaigned on it shows that the Right's long-term project of undoing the New Deal marches on despite the electorate's wishes.