March 16, 2013
As we fall into the sequester rabbit hole, don’t be surprised when perception of the size of things becomes distorted. Everything and nothing is relative in this latest iteration of the deficit crisis that simply will not die. Price tags for programs ripped from their budgetary moorings and held up for ridicule or support flicker and flutter like Tinker Bell, struggling to survive while her television audience dwindles, drained of passion by this endlessly repeated Promethean struggle.
When the federal government spends money, is some of it wasted? You betcha. Is it difficult to find bi-partisan consensus to identify and support federal programs that are effectively spending resources and cut the ones that aren’t? Absolutely. At the tail end of a recession, when unemployment is still too high, interest rates are incredibly low and inflation is not rearing its ugly head, is it a wise economic strategy to cut federal spending and threaten the “recovery” as it may be about to take wing? No. I agree with Paul Krugman, who quoted John Maynard Keynes in his column today: “(t)he boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.”
Thoughtless, across-the-board cuts couple stupidity with malice. All involved should feel shame, not pride.
With apologies to Reinhold Niebuhr, I recommend the following prayer: “God grant Congress and the President serenity to accept the things they cannot change; courage to change the things they can; and wisdom to know the difference.”