Tomorrow budget sequestration begins. The “unthinkable” gun-put-to-head law that Congress passed to force itself to compromise has, not surprisingly, not led to compromise. Instead it has led to the gun going off and now a weak American economy will face austerity cuts, a program that has led to further weakness in every economy it has been tried in.
And now The Hill reports the sequester may not be resolved until April.
The sequester is here to stay — at least for a while.
Lawmakers and aides say they do not expect Congress to turn off budget sequestration before April and that negotiations to freeze the automatic spending cuts could drag into May or beyond.
But don’t worry there will be one last photo op before the slicing begins.
President Obama has invited congressional leaders to meet at the White House on Friday, the same day $85 billion in automatic cuts are due to begin. However, congressional sources do not anticipate a deal at that gathering or any time soon…
Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) clearly indicated he was not going to sign off on a last-minute deal: “Read my lips: I’m not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation.”
Meanwhile, the White House is backing off its prior warnings that the sequester will strike a quick and devastating blow to the economy.
The White House can back off its previous statements all it likes, the realities of austerity will soon be clear to all, especially those in poverty and on government assistance. Cuts to unemployment benefits, rent assistance, job training, veterans services, nutrition assistance for women and children, public housing, foreclosure prevention, social security disability processing, and the list goes on. The cuts will not just hurt the poor it will hurt those businesses the poor patronize and ripple through the rest of the economy.
Earlier the White House released a state by state breakdown of sequestration cuts on various public services especially education. Combine this with cuts to the defense department and scientific research and sequestration looks increasingly dimwitted.
But the more fundamental question is why? Why do this? Austerity does not increase economic growth, in fact, it hurts growth according to the IMF – Greece and the United Kingdom are proving the point rather completely. So why?