The game this week has the president and Congress arguing over who dreamt up this nightmare that will automatically cut $1.2 billion from the U.S. budget unless an agreement is reached before March 1. As any fourth-grade civics student could report: Legislation can’t become law unless the president and a majority of Congress approve. It takes to tango … and sequester.
Back in summer 2011, the threat of automatic spending cuts, which became known as the sequester, seemed like a no-brainer. No leader in his right mind would allow such willy-nilly cuts, the thinking went. The threat alone will bring both sides to the table to work out a long-term fix.
Not so fast there.
If there’s blame to assign in this unresolved issue, it’s the failure to be insufficiently pessimistic. The forces driving the Republican Party have created an ever-tightening orthodoxy that demands severe reductions in the size of government, even though mainstream economists predict austerity would wreck the nation’s uneasy recovery. Thus, Republican politicians must manage a tricky course — appease the small-government faction while avoiding the cuts that blow up in their faces. It’s probably easier to just blame Barack Obama.