Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sequester II about to strike?

I don't know if this National Journal article is behind subscription: Scott Bland, Poll: Huge Majority of Americans Have Seen No Impact From Sequester 10/09/2013:

But it shows had badly it hurts the Democrats' nominal goals for Dem leaders to frame their economic arguments in Republican terms, i.e., bragging about drastically reducing The Deficit during a depression and praising St. Reagan all the time:

According to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, only 23 percent of respondents have "seen any impact of these cuts" in their communities or on them personally, while 74 percent said they had seen no impact from sequestration.

The results highlight a difficult issue for Democrats and the Obama administration in the broad fight over government spending: The budget cuts they decry not only haven't exasperated the public, they've gone largely unnoticed. That means both parties' political attacks over the sequester have less salience.

The poll results also are notable as Washington navigates the federal government shutdown and possible breach of the debt ceiling--two parallel crises carrying the potential of economic harm. While President Obama has stressed Senate Democrats' acquiescence to what he called "Republican spending levels," congressional Republicans are advocating another round of reductions in exchange for a debt-limit increase. Yet, absent reductions in Social Security or Medicare spending, it appears most Americans do not experience--or do not think they are experiencing--the effect of lower government spending.
Of course, "both parties" aren't attacking the sequester. It gives the Republicans what they want: less gubment. This is worth remembering when we hear about a short-term extension of the debt ceiling as a solution to the current crisis.

The 2011 debt ceiling crisis was "solved" by setting up the Fiscal Cliff or the end of 2012. When there was no no Bipartisan Grand Bargain over that, they set up the sequester, which supposedly would be so bad that "both parties" would have to make a deal. Amazingly, the Republicans let the sequester that fits their anti-government goals go into effect. Now getting back to the sequester's level of cuts would be a victory for Obama and the Democrats. Shoot, Obama is bragging about already having accepted a continuing resolution that has spending levels even lower than the sequester levels. Tell me again, why did we have a national election last year?

Here is Tom Tomorrow's account from a 03/13/2013 cartoon:

Joan Walsh gives an account in Cruelty in motion: The latest GOP debt crisis "solution" Salon 10/10/2013:

I would never say "both sides do it," but it must be acknowledged that the incredible privilege of virtually everyone associated with the federal government in Washington, D.C., and yes, in both parties, insulates them from the real suffering elsewhere in the nation. (Many Democrats are capable of empathy nonetheless.) And if you want to understand why "false equivalence" dominates the media narrative, that's a huge factor: the privilege and insularity of the Beltway media. I won’t name names right now but I'm watching writers and pundits I admire on television today applauding the House GOP proposal as a step forward, because a) their jobs depend on being the first to hail signs of "progress" and b) because they’re really not focused on the suffering this ongoing crisis has caused, because it hits no one they know. ...

This all goes back to August of 2011, when the president unwisely opened negotiations over the debt ceiling with the impotent and sneaky Boehner, and Boehner gave nothing, and then said he got "98 percent" of what he sought. We have lived with unconscionable austerity ever since. Obama came out and boasted, as he has many times since, that he’d agreed to a deal to cut discretionary spending to the lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was president, in the 1950s, which is something no Democrat should ever be proud of. [my emphasis]
Norm Ornstein, who has been regarded as conservative for as long as I've ever heard of him but who now would count as a "moderate" Republican writes in The Atlantic 10/10/2013:

The idea of threatening default in a real way—demanding outlandish concessions with a loaded gun to the country’s head—only emerged in 2011. We escaped default when Mitch McConnell swooped in at the last minute to craft a deal—but the future became clear soon thereafter when a candid McConnell told The Washington Post about the future of the debt ceiling, "What we did learn is this: It's a hostage that's worth ransoming." This year the hostage drama is more frightening. McConnell is AWOL this time. And the fantasy believed by many prominent GOPers about the consequences of default make it easier for them to push to the brink and over into the abyss. It may have come as no surprise when Rep. Ted Yoho, a veterinarian, said that a default would be great because "it would bring stability to the world markets." But when Tom Coburn, who should know better, says that there is no debt ceiling and that if we fail to raise the debt ceiling “we’ll continue to pay our interest, we’ll continue to redeem bonds, and we’ll issue new bonds to replace those,” it tells us that there are way too many lawmakers in a bubble of unreality. In contrast, there’s this from Bloomberg News: "Among the dozens of money managers, economists, bankers, traders, and former government officials interviewed for this story, few view a U.S. default as anything but a financial apocalypse."
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