Why Obama Refuses to Kill the Sequester

The game of chicken both the Republicans and Democrats are playing with the sequester and the budget/deficit talks is striking. One of the truly bizarre elements is that neither side is signaling the faintest interest in dealmaking of any kind. As I indicated the week before last, the lack of any sense of urgency was obvious: Congress had a holiday last week, and there were no real negotiations or even an exchange of proposals, virtually guaranteeing the sequester would take place as scheduled.

And you could feel the indifference even before then: no rush to get to work right after either the inaugural partying or the State of the Union. By contrast, recall last November how we went with nary a beat from the election results to deficit scaremongering and frenzied “what a deal should look like” chatter? The big reason for the hard push was that the outgoing Congress was assumed to be more amenable to a Grand Bargain, or what Bill Black has correctly called a Great Betrayal, than the incoming one. But will that make any difference in the end?

A piece in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday gave a good overview of the state of play. The game plan is now that the sequester will be allowed to kick in and will stay in place until one side cries “Uncle,” when the impact on the economy is hurting one side badly enough in the polls to force it to relent. From the Journal:

The president and congressional Democrats are looking beyond Friday, when the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, are due to take effect. Their strategy is to persuade the public that the cuts would harm defense, education and other programs, make air travel difficult and cost jobs, among other effects. They hope public pressure would force Republicans to reverse course and agree to new tax revenue….

But a protracted fight over the spending cuts also could take a toll on Republicans. Polling shows Mr. Obama has a far higher approval rating than Congress and that people generally favor his position in the dispute. In the battle for public opinion, the White House will argue that Republicans are the reason people may face longer lines at airport and job furloughs. If that impression takes hold, that could cause trouble for Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections.

Republicans believe they can stay united by accusing Mr. Obama of campaigning rather than negotiating and reminding people that they have backed legislation to replace the cuts to defense programs with nondefense cuts. They say they won’t bend to Mr. Obama’s demand for new tax revenue and that the public supports their goal of reducing the deficit.

Both sides seem remarkably confident in their contradictory views, which suggests that there is more here than meets the eye. Notice how Bowles and Simpson have been hauled out of mothballs, and how the bipartisan plutocratic Fix the Debt messaging has ratcheted up? As the Democrats and Republicans play Punch and Judy with each other, the real effort will be to come up with a backroom deal on cutting Social Security and Medicare enticing enough to get the Republicans to persuade their recalcitrant members to accept some token tax increases to secure a much bigger prize.

But unless both sides get lucky and the sequester produces serious bad photo images (airport lines? parents stuck due to the cessation of federally funded daycare? noise about tax refunds arriving later than usual? slashing of support for low income groups, like rental assistance programs and Head Start? ) it likely be at least a month before there is any economic effect (which means at least another three weeks beyond that before a deal is agreed upon).

Even then, the blowback may not support the political classes’ desire for a middle-class fleecing deal. For instance, in the extract above, the Republican strategists seem to believe the public thinks reducing military spending is bad. In fact, polls show the public overwhelmingly favors curbing military spending over cutting Social Security and Medicare. And ironically if the armed forces cut the use of contractors (which is where reductions are expected to fall most heavily) those might also fall on overseas activities, which would blunt the domestic economic impact. And what if, mirabile dictu, the public starts realizing that government provides programs they like (this was one of the ironies Matt Taibbi tore into with Tea Partiers, that they were against government yet firmly dependent on it, with many members on Medicare)? If that idea began to dawn on more of the public, it could have meaningful long-term ramifications.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hopeful. Plus both parties have a ready excuse to shift tactics and messaging. A lot of government funding is reapproved annually, and the deadline is March 27. That gives both sides the opportunity to ease the pain on specific groups and programs that they think are being pinched too hard. But the two camps are acting as if they can get an outcome they want, when they are putting a new experiment in play. In other words, I’d expect what they don’t seem to be anticipating, which is the unexpected.

Below, Bill Black provides an important piece of the puzzle, namely, why Obama is so keen on the sequester.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly posted with Benzinga

We are in the midst of the blame game about the “Sequester.” I wrote last year about the fact that President Obama had twice blocked Republican efforts to remove the Sequester. President Obama went so far as to issue a veto threat to block the second effort. I found contemporaneous reportage on the President’s efforts to preserve the Sequester – and the articles were not critical of those efforts. I found no contemporaneous rebuttal by the administration of these reports.

In fairness, the Republicans did “start it” by threatening to cause the U.S. to default on its debts in 2011. Their actions were grotesquely irresponsible and anti-American. It is also true that the Republicans often supported the Sequester.

The point I was making was not who should be blamed for the insanity of the Sequester. The answer was always both political parties. I raised the President’s efforts to save the Sequester because they revealed his real preferences. Those of us who teach economics explain to our students that what people say about their preferences is not as reliable as how they act. Their actions reveal their true preferences. President Obama has always known that the Sequester is terrible public policy. He has blasted it as a “manufactured crisis.”

the administration has stated publicly the three reasons this is so. First, the Sequester represents self-destructive austerity. Indeed, it would be the fourth act of self-destructive austerity. The August 2011 budget deal already sharply limited spending and the January 2013 “fiscal cliff” deal raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans and restored the full payroll tax. The cumulative effect of these three forms of austerity has already strangled the (modest) recovery – adding the Sequester, particularly given the Eurozone’s austerity-induced recession, could tip us into a gratuitous recession.

Second, the Sequester is a particularly stupid way to inflict austerity on a Nation. It is a bad combination of across the board cuts – but with many exemptions that lead to the cuts concentrating heavily in many vital programs that are already badly underfunded.

Third, conservatives purport to believe in what Paul Krugman derisively calls the “confidence fairy.” They assert that uncertainty explains our inadequate demand. The absurd, self-destructive austerity deals induced or threatened by the Sequester have caused recurrent crises and maximized uncertainty. They also show that the U.S. is not ready for prime time.

When he acted to save the Sequester, Obama proved that he preferred the Sequester to the alternative. When the alternative threatened by the Republicans was causing a default on the U.S. debt (by refusing to increase the debt limit), one could understand Obama’s preference (though even there I would have called the Republican bluff). The Republicans, however, had extended the debt limit in both of the cases that President Obama acted to save the Sequester in 2011.

Similarly, President Obama has revealed his real preferences in the current blame game by not calling for a clean bill eliminating the Sequester. It is striking that as far as I know (1) neither Obama nor any administration official has called for the elimination of the Sequester and (2) we have a fairly silly blame game about how the Sequester was created without discussing the implications of Obama’s continuing failure to call for the elimination of the Sequester despite his knowledge that it is highly self-destructive.

The only logical inference that can be drawn is that Obama remains committed to inflicting the “Grand Bargain” (really, the Grand Betrayal) on the Nation in his quest for a “legacy” and continues to believe that the Sequester provides him the essential leverage he feels he needs to coerce Senate progressives to adopt austerity, make deep cuts in vital social programs, and to begin to unravel the safety net. Obama’s newest budget offer includes cuts to the safety net and provides that 2/3 of the austerity inflicted would consist of spending cuts instead of tax increases. When that package is one’s starting position the end result of any deal will be far worse.

In any event, there is a clear answer to how to help our Nation. Both Parties should agree tomorrow to do a clean deal eliminating the Sequester without any conditions. By doing so, Obama would demonstrate that he had no desire to inflict the Grand Betrayal.

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  1. LucyLulu

    Making the sequester go away only requires savings/revenues of $85 billion dollars (this year). Yet the proposal Obama has on the table is worth $4.3 trillion. So yes, of course, he remains committed to brokering a grand bargain, complete with the much coveted cuts to entitlements.

    1. Dan Kervick

      The sequester is not just for cuts this year. It implements a 10-year program of cuts and spending limits totaling $1.2 trillion. Obama wants the replacement package to yield a bit more: $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. This is on top of the $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction that has already been implemented by cuts enacted since 2011, including the fiscal cliff deal at the end of last year. When Obama kicks around numbers in the $4 trillion area he is including that $2.4 trillion.

      1. Sanctuary

        You got it Dolley! They don’t mind making the rest of us pay for bankster foolishness. So the Federal Reserve can just continue to accrue trillions in bankster liabilities to keep the banksters in the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed while we continue to deprive ourselves of more and more. It sounds unrelated at first, but when you remember all of the BS talk about “certainty” that gets interwoven with talk of deficits and debt and “job creators”, you see this for the bankster ponzi that it truly is.

  2. Z

    It’s no revelation to most here that obama wants to portray himself as saving us from the nasty sequester cuts (which he acts as if the republicans created themselves or fell from the sky like an asteroid) when he is in fact scheming to rob us by cutting our ss benefits.

    Here’s the scumbag at work last week misleading the american people for the upteenth time:

    “I am prepared, eager and anxious to do a big deal, a big package that ends this governance by crisis,” Obama said at the annual House Democratic retreat at Lansdowne Resort in Virginia, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Washington.

    Who is most responsible for our government by crisis? Who keeps dragging the country through this shit so that they can get their cover … and provide cover to the other side as well … to cut our seniors’ safety net? obama, that’s who! No one has worked harder to try to cut ss as obama has … no one has been more diligent, more focused on those cuts as he. Why? Becoz he is the one that will most benefit from the disgusting deed … he’s the one who will have the most chips to cash in on for satisfying that item on our rulers’ wish list once he leaves office.

    Now the matter has partly become a matter of ego to him as well. He’s so confident that he can deliver the american public to our rulers … to do what no other president has been able to accomplish: cutting ss benefits … that it’s become personal. He’s not only touching the third rail of american politics, the cocky bastard is t-bagging it. He’s basically said to our rulers: “Don’t worry, I got this. Watch me.”

    Obama: not just a terrible president, but a horrible human being.


    1. Mass Progressive

      Agreed. We knew this well in advance, but the Obamabots continue to drink the Kool-Aid. I didn’t vote for him again, knowing what he is really like. When the choice is between a Romney and an Obama, well, might as well shoot oneself. I voted Green instead. I hate the Dims almost as much as the Rethugs now. Hopeless situation. I took early SS so that I could get some of what I’ve paid in since age 16 before the Bastards steal it all.

  3. Hugh

    “Both Parties should agree tomorrow to do a clean deal eliminating the Sequester without any conditions. By doing so, Obama would demonstrate that he had no desire to inflict the Grand Betrayal.”

    Say what? As Black has said, Obama engineered the sequester precisely to justify the looting of Medicare and Social Security. The Grand Betrayal has been consistent Obama policy since before his Inaugural in 2008. His initial attempts failed which is why he moved on to the sequester. All of these crises and initiatives, Bowles-Simpson, debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, and now the sequester have been about this. Obama fully intends to inflict the Grand Betrayal. He’s just searching for the right PR strategy to cover his ass while he’s doing it.

    One other note, it is important to remember that for the 99% there has been no recovery. The recession never ended. The threat of the US falling back into recession is just Washington corporatist PR. What we are really talking about is that Washington might lose the figleaf that there ever was a recovery. That is about appearance, not reality.

    1. juliania

      This indeed is the scenario. Just one more way to make the Grand Betrayal look palatable. And if this doesn’t work, he will try yet another tactic and the whole term will be taken up with Getting This Done.

      It’s his white whale.

      1. Z

        He’s become so f’ing needy about it, I’d be embarrassed if I was him. But then again I’m not someone with over $12M in total wealth … and the ability to get a lot more post-presidency no matter how well he serves our rulers … that’s willing … no, anxious … to shorten the lifespans of a bunhc of old people just so that I can add another magnitude to my wealth.

        He’s like a little kid …

      2. Z

        He’s become so f’ing needy about it, I’d be embarrassed if I was him. But then again I’m not someone with over $12M in total wealth … and the ability to get a lot more post-presidency no matter how well he serves our rulers … that’s willing … no, anxious … to shorten the lifespans of a bunch of old people just so that I can add another magnitude to my wealth. And this after immorally restoring the wealth of the rich.

        He’s like a spoiled child … spoiled by his demo-zombie followers who can’t make up enough excuses for him … spoiled by the corrupt democratic leaders in congress that are dying to kill people too with benefit cuts and just want the cover of “supporting our president” to do it … a spoiled child that keeps going back to something that they want. Can we go to the park now, mommy? Please! Please! Please! Can we cut the safety net that the vulnerable need now more than ever, johnny boehner? Please! Please! Please!

        obama: not just a bad president, but a horrible human being.


    2. bhikshuni

      Saliently cutting straight through to insight as usual, Hugh; thanks.

      Now lets join forces (Taibbi, Dayan, et al) to deny that PR cover, and keep the naked emperor exposed!

      1. Z

        I don’t think that you’ll get too much from Taibbi to tell you the truth. It seems like he does an awful lot of writing around obama – avoiding calling him out, quite often blaming his cabinet instead the one’s whose cabinet it is. Sure, every once in a while he’ll call him out pretty directly, but not nearly as often as called for.


        1. different clue

          Is Taibbi a genuine analyst? Or is he a Vichy Leftist who performs just enough plausible analysis to burnish his truthtelling image in the same way that the New York Times does?

          Any opinions?

          1. Z

            I don’t think that he is a full-out Vichy leftist, but he certainly favors the democrats over the republicans to an unjustifiable extent. He does on occassion call out obama, but again not as often as warranted. I think he probably has some contacts in the administration that he values and doesn’t want to risk losing. Sometimes I think he’s angling to get in on one of obama’s basketball games at the White House or something.

            Here is his latest essay on the sequester and it’s ain’t exactly accurate either and it again slants towards absolving obama by basically blaming everything he did to help cause the “crisis” on the crazy republicans for forcing him into it when in fact obama had a lot larger role in it than Taibbi acknowledges … an active role.



  4. YLSP

    I am a government civilian and have been told to expect a furlough of 20% starting end of April if the sequester remains. This will severly impact my household budget. Were the rich ever threatened with a 20% tax increase? Did the “Doc Fix” ever not get fixed? Did folks making between $250k-$400k ever get the tax hike they were supposed to see? This is why I’m not *that* worried but still highly annoyed.

    I don’t understand the logic of the sequester anyway. The real problem here is that Federal government has been operating under a Continuing Resolution set to FY12 levels. The sequester removes $85B from those levels (the equivalent of $160B since it is removed in 1/2 years time). If Congress wanted to enact these cuts, they *should have* enacted them either (a) Beginning of FY12 or (b) January 1.

    (a) Was impossible, could you imagine this playing out right before the election? I don’t understand why Congress didn’t go for (b) except for the fact that they all know these cuts are getting removed and the GOP needs to get something in the deal. The more the GOP keeps the threat of sequestration, the more they will be able to get their *something* even after holding the budget hostage and losing the election; an election which didn’t even see much Federal spending as part of the debate.

    Mitt Romney didn’t like sequestration, the House GOP cannot even pass their own sequestration replacement anymore, the Democrats in the Senate are going to have a replacement bill ready to go and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Senate gets a sequestration replacement done in mid-March.

    Back to my problem with the logic of the sequester. The GOP/Obama were able to cap discretionary spending over FY12-2021 and save $1.2T. It’s my understanding that FY14 and beyond will have budgets at those levels (I assume Obama wouldn’t do something like propose to break those agreed to caps). So if the $85B sequester is removed, there will be $1.15T in savings which is enforced by the already agreed upon caps.

    Was it really the plan that the $85B would be used to incentize the parties to agree to something like $2T in deficit reduction over 10 years? Do the math, that’s $200B/year. Who would think a one-year cut of $85B is enough of an incentive?

    The more I think about it, the more I’m confused, and the only thing that makes sense is what Mr. Black wrote.

    Either way, it looks like Kyl, McCain, Graham, Cornyn, and Ayotte are interested in replacing and/or relieving the sequester. I still don’t understand why simply canceling the sequester for this year, since it makes no sense isn’t a logical path forward.

  5. Really?

    I’ve worn myself out trying to keep up with the political calculus behind this and all the other f***ed up sh** Obama and the rest of his D.C. Drones are up to. Fair to say, our government has been captured by forces more insidious than even posters on intelligent boards like this can possibly suspect. Whatever the answers to our current quandaries are, one thing’s for sure: they don’t lie within the current system. Whatever form our eventual collapse takes and however terrible are the consequences, it’s now certain that the 1% ain’t gonna give up the fight any other way, and so the eventual outcome is now assured and should be welcomed when it comes. Perhaps a military misadventure in the South China Sea and a wholesale dumping of the USD as the world’s reserve currency and our subsequent pricing out of the world’s oil markets, followed possibly by some nuclear saber rattling that only digs our hole even deeper? It’s not hard to imagine how fast things could go terribly wrong for us.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Apart from Buffett or a few others, I see little evidence that the 1% comprehend that nation states have much relevance in their lives.

      But I think many of us have just about given up trying to track whatever machinations are afoot in DC.

      As Yves wrote,

      In other words, I’d expect what they don’t seem to be anticipating, which is the unexpected.

      ‘The unexpected’ seems the most likely outcome at this point.

    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Sorry, this was the bit that I meant to highlight:

      Whatever the answers to our current quandaries are, one thing’s for sure: they don’t lie within the current system.

      At the risk of being pilloried around here, I suspect that Mr. Bernanke is a very decent, well-intentioned man who has more knowledge of the Great Depression than most humans. However, if David Potter is correct that over the past 30 years, 30,000,000,000 (billion) microprocessors – including robots – have been created on the planet, then the industrial base of the 1930s is a far cry from the so-called industrial base of the 2000s.

      The 1930s saw the emergence of telecom; the 2000s were still at the emergence of global networks (still ongoing).

      IOW, arguable Bernanke and everyone else is well-intentioned and decent, but pretty much over their heads.

      If we are in a networked world, rather than an industrial economy a la 1930s, then all the rules change. IMVHO, a guy like Paul Ryan will be the last to figure this out, and Mitt Romney benefitted from these shifts but doesn’t actually understand the implications for social or economic policy.

      The austerity concepts might have worked in an industrialized economy; I don’t honestly know. But in a networked world with long tails, we need to fundamentally rethink policy.

      Which is why I think Yves is correct that no one knows what’s going to happen and all bets are off. And why Bill Black is also right: if we are in a networked world of long tails, we need more public spending than we’ve needed since the dawn of man. Paul Ryan and his GOP colleagues will be the last person on earth to grasp these relationships, and that’s a problem. As for the Dems, I pretty much throw up my hands in despair.

    3. Zachary Smith

      “Fair to say, our government has been captured by forces more insidious than even posters on intelligent boards like this can possibly suspect.”

      This is an incredibly depressing bunch of reading matter. In the past I could always console myself that I was probably over-the-top paranoid, and things couldn’t possibly be as bad as I thought.

      To have my nose rubbed in the notion I’ve not been crazy enough is really sobering.

      I had no idea till now that BHO was the mainspring behind the sequester. This is bad news. Really bad news, and I can buy into the notion that gutting the social programs has become an obsession with him.

  6. Dan Kervick

    Both sides want the sequester. Republicans want to cut defense but are unwilling to pitch those cuts to their constituency; Democrats want to cut Social Security and Medicare but are unwilling to pitch those cuts to their constituency. So with the sequester, they can both claim that they were forced into the cuts by the irresponsibility of the other side. There will be some subsequent package to replace the cuts that cause the most intense squawking with either different cuts or tax increases. But a large portion of the cuts will stay in place, which is what Washington wants.

    The context for this is that the leadership of both parties believes cutting the deficit is good national policy and good macroeconomics. Belief in confidence fairies the wastefulness of government spending is not just a Republican talking point. It is language the White House has consistently used. The White House’s diagnosis of the persistence of economic stagnation and unemployment is that the business community lacks confidence due to high government deficits.

    1. from Mexico

      It’s the triumph of neoclassical economic theory, whose champions range from the leftist Paul Krugman to the rightist Tea Partiers. They’re all on the same team. As Steve Keen has often remarked:

      The fundamental cause of the economic and financial crisis that began in late 2007 was lending by the finance sector that primarily financed speculation rather than investment. The private debt bubble this caused is unprecedented, probably in human history and certainly in the last century (see Figure 1). Its unwinding now is the primary cause of the sustained slump in economic growth. The recent growth in sovereign debt is a symptom of this underlying crisis, not the cause, and the current political obsession with reducing sovereign debt will exacerbate the root problem of private sector deleveraging…

      The economic and financial crisis has been caused by unenlightened self-interest and fraudulent behaviour on an unprecedented scale. But this behaviour could not have grown so large were it not for the cover given to this behaviour by the dominant theory of economics, which is known as “Neoclassical Economics”.

      Though many commentators call this theory “Keynesian”, one of Keynes’s objectives in the 1930s was to overthrow this theory, but instead, as the memory of the Great Depression receded, academic economists gradually constructed an even more extreme version of Neoclassical economics than that against which Keynes had fought.


    2. cwaltz

      The sequester doesn’t include cuts to Social Security or Medicare. It cuts domestic spending like Medicaid but exempts the above 2 programs.

      That’s why Obama is eager to replace the cuts with these 2 programs and arguing we should avoid a sequester. Once the sequester happens the chances of him getting cuts to the programs of his choice go down.

      1. ian

        Why do you assume Obama wants to make cuts to social security and medicare? I don’t see much evidence he cares all that much about *any* kind of spending. As they say in Hollywood – “what’s his motivation?”.

        1. different clue

          Multimillion dollar pay outs from his Wall Street sponsors if he can cut and destabilize SS/Mcare. Also, realizing his vain posturing self-image of himself as the Great Historical Democrat who succeeded in pulling off the Nixon-Goes-To-China against Social Security and Medicare which no Democrat dared to try. To “boldly go where no Democrat has gone before”.

  7. Brizie

    Yves, you miss one of the main reasons both the Ds and the Rs will string out the sequester contest. It keeps attention focused away from the real problems on which most US voters want Obama and Congress to focus their efforts.

    As long as the national debate is focused on trivial bullshit far removed from the big problems US voters really want addressed, then Obama and the Congress don’t have to do anything about those real problems.

    Voter polls show an overwhelming majority want jobs addressed. It’s the runaway number one issue. And, which do you think voters would very strongly prefer, Congress debate and address real ways to improve healthcare in the US or debate a sequester? And on and on.

    I ask all Democrats: Why isn’t your Representative in Congress standing up and demanding a massive jobs bill? Why aren’t the editorial directors of mainstream media (“MSM”) even mentioning the topic, let alone debating it?

    Whether or not you believe a massive jobs bill is practical or possible, theoretically workable programs have been proposed. Proponents argue America has done it before. That’s a reasonable argument. At minimum, there should be a national debate. But, on that we get silence. Instead, we get: Look over here! Look at sequester!

    NC’s readers know why the Serious People keep their silence on the issues voters care about. We know who owns MSM. We know who owns the political process, Congress and Obama. The owners don’t want the real issues even mentioned, let alone debated and addressed.

    Even NC is suckered into this phony trivial sequester debate.

    Can NC and other non-MSM bloggers help shift the debate? I wonder if sites like NC regularly prefaced their posts on the diversionary bullshit with something like “Once again the big issues voters care about are being pushed into oblivion so we instead can discuss this nonsense.” Would a relentless drumbeat by bloggers like Yves and Ritholtz steadily calling attention to the big diversions help shift the debate?

    1. from Mexico

      The vested interests enourage the growth of imperialist wars and irrationality because both serve to divert the discontnet of the masses away from their vested interests. Accordingly, some of the defenders of vested interests divert a certain part of their surplus to create instruments of class oppression, instruments of imperialist wars, and instruments of irrationality. Once these instruments are created and begin to become institutions of class oppression, of imperialist wars, and of irrationality, the chances of the institution of expansion being reformed into an instrument of expansion become almost nil. These three new vested interests in combination with the old vested institution of expansion are in a position to prevent all reform. The last of these three, the old institution of expansion, now begins to lose its privileges and advantages to the three institutions it has financed. Of these three, the institution of class oppression contols much of the political power of the society, the institution of imperialist wars controls much of the military power of the society and the institution of irrationality controls much of the intellectual life of the society. These three become dominant, and the group that formerly controlled the institution of expansion falls back into a secondary role, its surpluses largely absorbed by its own creations. In this way, in Mesopotamian civilization, the Sumerian priesthood, which had been the original instrument of expansion, fell into a secondary role behind the secular kings it had set up to command its armies in the imperialist wars of its Age of Conflict. In the same way in Classical civilization the slaveowning landlords who had been the original instrument of expansion were largely eclipsed by the mercenary army that had been created to carry on the imperialist wars of the Age of Conflict but took on life and purposes of its own and came to dominate Classical civilization completely. So too the Nazi party which had been financed by some of the German monopoly capitalists as an instrument of class oppression, of imperialist war, and of irrationality, took on purposes of its own and began to dominate the monopoly capitalists for its own ends.

      — CARROLL QUIGLEY, The Evolutuion of Civilizations

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The sequester debate isn’t trivial. It is a symptom of the fundamental problem.

      The sequester is part of the deficit cutting effort. Cutting the deficit will kill jobs. If you care about jobs, you don’t want deficit cutting now (and as long as businesses are underinvesting, which was taking place in the last expansion as well).

      In fact, the moneyed classes are running the PR that debt cutting will help the economy after we get past a recession it will induces. And why? The confidence fairy will come back.

      1. Bobloblaw

        Cutting the size of govt has resulted in economic booms in the past. 1920s and 1990s are the best examples.

      2. Brizie

        My mistake. I agree with you, the sequester is a “SYMPTOM” of a “fundamental problem.” I used “trivial” to mean small…relative to the size of the big problems Congress could be addressing. My bad.

        I agree with Professor Wray, “farce” is a much better word to use to characterize sequesters.

        I was trying to ask: Why are we discussing symptoms rather than big fundamental problems?

        The internet is a game changer in the same way the printing press was. It disperses knowledge and power away from the established authorities. The old gatekeepers no longer can entirely contain and control the national debate. Bloggers like you are starting to make a real difference.

        Many (most?) people lack an ability to place the size of national-scale problems in perspective. All big numbers look big to them; all appear equally important. When each “big” issue is debated as MSM serves it up to them, many readers assume today’s problem is about as important as yesterday’s or tomorrow’s big-issue.

        I’m asking you if you’re interested in starting a movement among bloggers to attempt to refocus the national debate. I’m suggesting you attempt to place the relative size of fundamental issues into clear perspective.

        For example, you could ask your favorite contributors and readers to join a discussion to identify the five or six or ten biggest problems Congress could be addressing. Then the size of the problem could be put in perspective. What percent of GDP and how many trillion dollars per year are at stake with each opportunity?

        Then it would be easy to show, with links, Congress and the President continue to avoid the big problems. For example: “Today’s diversion, the sequester, is roughly a $100 billion/year problem. Congress still is avoiding the ten biggest opportunities it has to fix things we really care about, the multi-trillion dollar/year problems. (link to your top 10 list)”

        If you clarify and regularly call attention to the size of fundamental problems, and how today’s diversion pales in comparison, maybe it’ll catch on with other influential bloggers.

    3. different clue

      Since Obama and the SequesteRats want to use the sequester to extort cuts to our Medicare benefits and our PREpayed for Social Security benefits, the sequester is highly non-trivial to our SS/Mcare future survival. The extortionate purpose behind sequester to begin with makes the sequester battle non-trivial even as efforts to get jobs bills are also non-trivial.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    The simple answer is Obama is as arrogant as W. He might be a tad smarter than W., but this mess is similar to the Afghanistan expansion. Its about Obama’s preconceived notions being correct not policy outcomes.

    I think Obama believes the sequester is akin to threatening children with no desert if they don’t eat their vegetables at dinner. Instead of questioning why he is serving crummy meals kids don’t like and offering desert late in the day when its bad for you, Obama will demonstrate he is a big tough guy with all the answers.

    He never expected this to come to pass because he didn’t grasp how important policy outcomes were to people, and he didn’t get the support for Social Security theft from elected Democrats that he expected. His threat didn’t work, so now he is going to sit there and try to explain the virtues of some crummy meal and still promise desert.

    I don’t think he knows what he wants as President beyond a bipartisan photo-op and not pissing off his golf pals. Combined with his arrogance, the result will be treading water at best. As far as his allies and staff go, Obama is like countless dipshit CEOs. He doesn’t want to listen to other ideas or ideas from people he doesn’t already listen to.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Obama wants what comes after being President: Lots and lots of money, plus the acclaim of those he respects (the banksters). Elective office, these days, is a very poorly paid internship and the prelude to the really big bucks.

      If Obama weren’t such a chilly personality, I’d predict he gets a teebee show, but I think he’ll become a greeter for Goldman Sachs, or some such. They’ll keep him away from any real form of executive responsibility, but that smile! It’s gold!

      1. neorealist

        Not just the smile, but the baritone. I could also see Obama making a bundle on the lecture circuit–universities, arenas, and rubber chicken corporate conventions.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

          It’s nauseating how far we’ve come from the Hope/Change days of 2008 to today. Even though I knew we were snookered as soon as he appointed Geithner, still it doesn’t feel good to be so completely conned. And to be conned at a moment when real change was possible, the Pigmen were on their back foot. Not so any more, opportunity gone forever.

        2. ian

          You’d have to pay _me_ to attend those lectures. The lecturing ‘eat your vegetables’ tone, the constant ‘uh….’s to show how thoughtful he is. I find his speaking incredibly grating.

  9. steelhead23

    I agree that Obama is pursuing the sequester to cover his interest in the Grand Bargain. But, in facilitating the sequester, he will be squeezing a large number of pigs, that is, those who benefit from Federal spending (which is a lot cf companies) will be hurt. How loud they scream and how much pressure they put on Congress could lead to a sharp identification of who it is that benefits, nay, who it is that depends on federal largess. And the fights in Congress could be epic. We might as well sit back and enjoy the ride. It is going to happen.

    1. different clue

      I’m not going to enjoy the ride as long as it leads to SS/Mcare Cutsville City. I will at the very least lift a pathetic finger in the direction of threatening/promising Dparty officeholders/operatives with no more money/votes/calls/nothing if any trace of the BS Obama Catfood Plan passes.

  10. johnhaskell

    “Third, conservatives purport to believe in what Paul Krugman derisively calls the “confidence fairy.” They assert that uncertainty explains our inadequate demand.”

    No, they argue that uncertaintly ALWAYS causes supply problems–god forbid they directly acknowledge demand problems. For instance, last year, James P wrote for AEI:

    “But perhaps just as important, Truman dumped many of FDR’s most radical New Dealers. That change boosted business confidence, and companies started to invest again in America.”

    Yeeeeeesssss, business confidence was restored in 1945 by the dumping of some New Deal programs . . . not because of this thing called World War II just ended, or pent-up demand. Nope, all supply-side.

  11. Schofield

    If you take a step back from this government spending issue and have some knowledge of the concept of Sectoral Balances pioneered by Wynne Godley then you’ll understand that it all amounts to a failure by Democrats and Republicans to understand the need to apply a broader or “bigger picture” balance sheet accounting system than one that merely looks at the Federal Government balance sheet. Indeed Wynne Godley had his research funding to develop a “bigger picture” balance sheet accounting model withdrawn by Margaret Thatcher’s spiteful meddling simply because he correctly foretold her economic policies would fail because she lacked the “bigger picture” model. History is now being repeated here in the United States, in the UK and the Eurozone. Politicians and main stream economists would indeed appear to be very slow learners. Obviously something very wrong with educational systems that allow themselves to be dominated by vested interests.

    1. jurisV

      Bravo Schofield !

      Thanks for the expressing the necessity of the “big picture” view, such as the one that Godley developed for sectoral balances. The main problem as I see it with current discussions/interpretations of economics is that almost all of them look at one tiny slice or window of the economic universe. The reason, of course, is that looking at a “big picture” is incredibly complicated because of the huge number of the known variables (let alone the ones that we don’t yet appreciate). The complexity of all these variables allows the the mind-numbing bullshit of neo-classical economists to flourish.

      Fortunately there is a possible end to the growth of the neo-classical swamp and actually allow us to get glimpses of the “Big Picture” — The development of economics models based on the mathematics of non-linear complex-systems.

      Steve Keen’s “Minsky” project offers the hope of getting through the current swamp of economics trash to the frontiers of complex systems where the engineering world has already long been busy.

      Steve Keen’s development of his computerized visual simulation model of the economics universe is based on Minsky’s ideas and also includes models of Wynne Godley’s ideas. It’s called “Minsky” and when fully developed will allow economists, students (and even us) to easily simulate economic models that will at last have the potential to be representative of the BIG PICTURE. The value to our society will be to allow a more rational discussion of economics — not just a lot of arm waving based on pseudo-science and mathematical bullshit.

      In case you haven’t heard — Keen has a Kickstarter project that currently has gone past it’s first milestone in the last couple of weeks. It’d be nice to see it bloom to a million !


      1. steelhead23

        Yves, We see Steve Keen mentioned here quite often. How about soliciting a guest post from him? – Perhaps one on Minsky and MMT. Just a thought.

  12. Casteelk

    At some point the 1% (as they are called), really the .01%, will start stabbing each other in the back. Its just how sociopath’s work. When that happens, things get really stupid. Could be what we are now seeing.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Please pardon my third comment (yikes!) on a single post, but honestly… I know a couple of those folks and they are very decent people, as caught up in this mess as the rest of us. And they travel a lot, so they’ve seen Banana Republics and do not like them. And don’t want the US to become one.

      Not every member of the top 10% thinks like the Koch brothers.
      Being wealthy does not automatically make a person a self-absorbed jerk. To assume that is far too simplistic.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I can actually believe you… But the decent ones — and how many of the few thousand at the tippy tippy top really are decent — had better get off their duffs and do something fast.

      2. reslez

        Being wealthy does not automatically make a person a self-absorbed jerk

        Being a person automatically makes one a self-absorbed jerk. The wealthy want the same things everyone wants, the difference is they have the power to subvert the system to guarantee they always win. The wealthy may be very nice people, but they certainly don’t want to lose what they have. I certainly don’t see any of them volunteering for middle class life, much less poverty. They are part of the problem by definition.

      3. Bobloblaw

        Convicted felon, speculator, currency destroyer and Nazi collobrator George Soros does his best to prove otherwise.

  13. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    Due to phenomenal ratings from early pilot sitcoms, here on Mongo much our programming on prime time Mongo TV is now derived from observing events on your Planet Earth. One popular spin-off is the game show “Jackpot” and our celebrity contestants analyze the previous weeks news and give a powerpoint presentation on their discovery of a “Earthling Scam of the Week”. All celebrity contestants on “Jackpot” also compete on “Do You Want To Be An Earthling Billionaire?”, so they are expert in the ways of the rich and famous on Earth. (your Emperor can barely type a sentence without sparking another series idea). But anyway, the show uses the interactive format and viewers call in and vote for the winning scam.

    This week’s Winning Scam is beautiful in it’s sheer, but largely unreported , budget symmetry. Data from a couple short months ago on the details of the “resolution” of the “Fiscal Cliff”, compiled back then by your Matt Stroller, indicated Congress handed out $210 Billion Dollars in corporate tax cut pork in order to get all congressmen and president to sign off on the “Fiscal Cliff” “resolution”. Last week, un-requested by anyone we can discern from afar, Simpson-Bowles updated their “plan” to increase Medicare-Medicaid cuts from $400 Billion to $600 Billion.


    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      As earthling Chairman Mao one observed, “Politics rules all.” Therefore, as my modest submission for the possible winning scam for this week’s “Jackpot”, I would like to submit “Co-Dependency”, featuring the leaders of the two legacy political parties.

      I feel my proposal should trump your past “Earthlings Money Matters” this week, as those viewers who have a rudimentary appreciation of money issuance and its distribution on Earth have become disgusted by what they have seen and are unlikely to tune in anyway.

      Thank you for entertaining (my proposed submission).

  14. looselyhuman

    We keep coming up with these intricate analyses and “have to assume” he’s about the grand betrayal, etc.

    If Americans could add a single word to their political vernacular, none of this would be necessary.

    Neoliberal. It’s what he is.

  15. LeRoy Matthews

    Study my Letter on Diana@Philosophyinaction.com. (Search: Crazy Inbox)

    The “news” you put out isn’t Capitalism, at all.

    Various Famous Economists, such as Professor Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University, claim that the so-called “national debt” is actually about $228 Trillion, & going up about $ 1 Trillion a month. Continuing to “spend” $, claming that tey can easily Balance te Budget, etc.,m don’t make sense.

    1. LucyLulu

      $228 trillion is what doesn’t make sense. Geesh, Kotlikoff doesn’t even attempt offset the anticipated liabilities with anticipated revenues (like, say, FICA taxes). What kind of crackpot economist is he? For an explanation of why this is fearmongering that ignores accounting-based realities, and what the real unfunded liabilities amount to, to the extent the future can be predicted, see:

      1. LeRoy Matthews

        As I understand it, politicians, etc., use the Wrong type of Accounting principles, based on Cash accounting, rather on Accrual Accounting- which would apparently give much more accurate, (& much worse) figures. Cash accounting doesn’t apply to Stolen $, or to Red Ink/ Debts/ Deficits, etc. $ that’s been STOLEN FROM the taxpayers, etc., BELONGS TO the taxpayers, etc.,- it doesn’t somehow become “Revenue”, “Investment $”, “Salaries”, “Free $ from the government”, etc. Baseline budgeting (starting the fiscal year at $0- or some other arbitrary amount- doesn’t make sense. Professor K. apparently adds up the Official Figures for the Unfunded, Off- Budget Liabilities & Obligations of what he calls the “Federal Government”, which he then claims is the ” nationl debt”, which, of couse, isn’t anything of the kind. The politicians’ debts are just that- the politicians’ debts.

  16. gozounlimited

    Considering that man-made climate change is a lie perpetrated onto the world’s populations by the global Elite and the UN’s IPCC. Scientists worldwide have come to the fact that the sun is heating up not only our Earth, but all the planets in our solar system…yet the US is spending multi-billions in the effort to sequester carbon through chemspraying our atmosphere.

    The National Institute of Health (NIH) has found that geo-engineering is directly responsible for neurotoxins found in human blood, lungs; as well as causing a whole host of neurotoxic conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

    Geo-engineering is manipulating and altering the planet’s atmosphere by causing drought. Toxic barium, magnesium, aluminum and other chemicals are released in the chemtrails that follow certain airplanes. These aerosol exhausts first appear as normal contrails of water vapor that usually follow airplanes. Yet, chemtrails do not dissipate, changing from straight lines and cross hatch patterns into streaks of “clouds” that cover most of the visible sky.

    Chemtrails have been seen all across the world. They are composed of parasites, toxic metals, nano-engineered particles and other toxins. Samples have yielded the presence of:

    • Aluminum
    • Barium
    • Nickel
    • Cadmium
    • Mold spores
    • Synthetic nano-fibers
    • Bacillus blood spores
    • Radioactive thorium

    These chemicals are entered into the lungs and skin, and pollute the human body. They collect in our environment and alter the air we breathe, food we eat; creating an unavoidable toxicity. Consider the cost of treating human/animal/plant disease caused by the highly toxic aerosols.

    STOP the Slow Genocide and Drought caused by Geoengineering and solve budget issues by saving billions on toxic dumping and disease treatment caused by deadly toxins designed to destroy life ….. all life.



    1. Casteelk

      Chemtrails are one of the oldest and more fun of the conspiracy theories. Hell, why not, seems like more and more conspiracy theories seem to be coming true, why not throw that one in there too.

        1. notsosure

          I don’t know about chemtrails; but I do know this:

          As an amateur photographer, I noticed a marked change in the behavior of contrials in the mid 1990s. What once barely existed and rarely lingered became a major photography problem at its peak in the late 1990’s, where it was nearly impossible to get a landscape photo taken without a persistent long lasting contrail(s) in the sky, these would eventually merge and morph into a thin layered low level cloud cover.

          Then, almost as suddenly as they came, they mostly went away (coincidentlay about the same time as the W’s wars in the early 2000’s).

          These days, we are back to the old “normal” where we can go weeks without seeing a contrail of any type. Then, once in a while, they come back for a day or two, blanketing the sky with their odd cloud formations and oily-looking prism rainbows.

          It is certainly not beyond the documented propensity of our government to conduct massive weather and medical experiments on the populace, including aerial spraying as a mattter of fact, and of course reckless radiation releases, google it.

          In any case, the persistent sky-covering contrials, whatever they are, behaved very strangely for about a decade. And then, even more strangely, reverted almost entirely back to normal.

          In the interim, I had given up on photography.

          1. notsosure

            I should add….

            The chemtrails explantion is just one – that they government is trying to make us sick or weak or thin the herd – or that the government is preparing us with on-demand sickness to activate in times of unrest. Then again, a counter theory is this is for mass vaccination against terror atacks and epidemics.

            Or… it is part of an earthquake-inducing program in conjuction with HAARP. But I cannot really pencil that out.

            I am probably more inclined to believe that it is part of a government experiment in weather modification and climate change mitigation. Seems prudent to me.

            Then again, it could be a DoD program of battlefield control. Creating cloud cover at will. For what, I am not sure, would that even help any more?

            Finally, and also believably, the forumation of jet fuel changed. Except why has it seemed then a decade later to change back?

            Again, I am certain about one thig: the nature of contrails changed radically, seemingly overnight, and then a decade later, also overnight, they changed back.

            I don’t know where you live, and that may matter, because out here in the mountain west, where “the sky is not cloudy all day,” the sudden persistent presence of contrail/chemtrails was extremely hard not to notice, for anyone who liked to watch the sky.

          2. different clue

            I also think I have been seeing this. It had always seemed to me that a classic “contrail” would extend out beyond the plane making it by a few hundred plane-lengths and then dissipate/disappear at the far end after a couple of minutes or so. Whereas other plane-left “trails” extend the length of half the sky and sometimes spread out to the width of narrow clouds over their entire length. And they persist for a half hour or more. What explains this? Some of the explanations seem foily, but those are peoples’ best efforts to explain something that is there to be seen by people who look up.
            A few months ago I watched a jet cross the sky leaving a
            “contrail” which lasted for many minutes. It widened but not to narrow cloud width. It did, however, sprout little cloud whisps extending out from itself at right angles randomly along one side of itself, all pointing the same direction . . . seeming to go “downwind” from the long axis of the trail. They looked almost like they were new cloud being formed around some nucleating agent being blown laterally from the main axis of the cloud-trail. I am happy to consider any foil-free explanation of this if it can explain why some plane-trails do this and others don’t.

          3. notsosure

            “It’s a leap from some sort of upper atmosphere effect to chemtrails to the government.”

            Indeed, the government is far too busy devoting trillions of dollars towards enriching banks, destroying the middle class, and manipulating the world economy to be bothered with altering the weather or expirimenting with aerial germ warfare.

          4. lambert strether


            Ham. Do you see yonder cloud that ’s almost in shape of a camel?
            Pol. By the mass, and ’t is like a camel, indeed.
            Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
            Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
            Ham. Or like a whale?
            Pol. Very like a whale.

            A propos, no?

    2. different clue

      Chemtrails aside, I remain satisfied for now that manmade global warming is a real force in our present and a growing force in our future. I expect to live out my few remaining decades in a world of Big Heat Rising.

    3. Zachary Smith

      I don’t know about this guy’s motives – he could be dead serious or putting out a nice parody of an inbred tea bagger – but in either case a bit of comic relief is nice in a thread like this one.

  17. james

    here we go the main stream media will get a kick out of pointing fingers no answer though.blame game will be working over time it seems to look in that direction. here’s one no one in the government should get a pay check until they come up with a something anything.it seems that we vote them in well some voted these in anyway.they work for us but its our tax dollars that pay all. so it would seem no more vaction and golf lessons while this country is in such a wind of a mess.hope and change … yes we can..pass this bill forward… i’m envolving… i need more time to finish what i started.. i won! so it shouldn’t mean more vaction and golf but to get down and work and get it finished.no more blame games but seems with all dems more taxes with republicans no tax raise in 17-20 years if my memory serves righ.we are taxed to death now.and just wait until obamacare kicks in we will see just how bad taxes are and now on pay checks payroll tax where will it end? our seniors are already hurting out of touch for families with children making 1200.00 a month maybe if the government had a buget but obama wants to give all a raise in salary even said something about 1st lady getting a salary.. really ?!taxes ,taxes,and more taxes and cant even come up with a plan. but blame one another. the poor and middle class have sunk already.but work wit a ilegal who get more pay due to fact they can speek spanish or american no where on the job that you need to speek spanish and get 750.00 in food stamps and free medical this is hurting america to when someone who loses a job they do not get help but someone from another country is getting it while working and i am not the only person that is running into this. and the government doesnt look into this or have to have these people laugh in our face on the job and tell us we are stupid. i cant say anything or would lose my job but i would like to say to this person who pushe us around at work… yes, my country is being stupid to give to those like you. and some do maybe need help but not some that ar working and get this help. and our government can’t figure out why we are in a hole along with giving and borrowing and can’t come up with a plan.

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    Going Forward

    The Democrats and Republicans use each other as foils to diffuse the blame; we never seem to tire of that tribal game. But that isn’t enough, so the Republicans use gerrymandering and the Democrats use their DNC machinery to rig who people get to vote for and the Republicans go one step further (must maintain appearances, n’est pas – boo!) and limit who gets to vote at all.

    That still isn’t enough. People have grown attached to luxuries such as shelter or eating more than once a week or keeping the heat above 50 degrees – for the lucky ones – in cold areas. So it STILL isn’t enough to distract the rabble.

    That means it’s likely there will be further distracting fanfare, such as another giant oil spill, or another Middle East crisis such as a new war that will occur just in time to take the edge off such pathetic unpatriotic concerns as watching our children or our parents (or ourselves) starve.

    That still isn’t enough (even if Obama IS a good father). People get to thinking. More and more decide this lessor of evils idea is kind of screwy after all. Can’t seem to win, doesn’t seem to matter… That’s when we start to see some brilliant displays of technology and main stream media dexterity. Giant demonstrations take place like trees falling deep within the forest. They happen, but they DON’T happen. Discontent takes on an edge. The Supreme Charade Court rules that it’s perfectly constitutional for Drones to be used at Presidential whim in complete secrecy inside the country for any activity including snuff games as long as someone in the administration believes it just may possibly protect the homeland and moreover that judicial or any kind of independant oversight is an unnecessary burden in this great final war against anyone who is against war.

    That’s when all the new technology toys we’ve been testing on brown people overseas start to come out. Most of us will just hear about them first, and then they will be ubiquitous, every day occurrences.

    From there, it starts to get ugly.

  19. LillithMc

    Watch the politics in the red states. Billionaires get what they want immediately without needing a vote. Evangelicals get their “religious” bills passed. Federal grants are put into the general fund as tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Voting rights are limited and the partisan gerrymander keeps the House red probably for ten years. Obstructing and limiting federal government has been Republican since Reagan who destroyed the air controller union PATCO. Recently at Reagan Airport one air controller was on a triple shift when they fell asleep. Several planes landing had to coordinate among themselves to land in the dark. That is the future path we are on.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Take off the partisan blinkers. Both parties are in lockstep, they are just pitched to slightly different demographics. The people running the Rs and Ds are substantially the same group. Pepsi or Coke, it’s all neoliberal Kool-Aid in the bottles.

  20. RR

    Sequester is not about those noises and distractions. Sequester is about breaking leveraged millionairs (defense subcontractors, ect. where bills fall due) to allow the billionairs to acquire assets for pennies on the dollar.

    1. different clue

      Ah, yes. Yeltsinization. The Andrew Mellon Plan. I should add that to my belief that sequester is to advance the Caftood Plan Extortion Plan.

      Perhaps the mere millionaires can dust all their distressed properties with anthrax spores before turning them over to the Obama Yeltsinite billionaires.

  21. Brooklin Bridge

    The only possibility Obama won’t get his way with this sequester (or the next ploy) would be some significant crack of light appearing in the main stream media. And I wouldn’t plan on so much as a leaf of lettuce coming out of that. Or the Supreme Court? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… Obama is one of the most successful presidents in United States history. He has almost single-handedly redefined the soul of the Democratic Party to stand for class war fare against the people it claims to represent. True, he had Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to clear the path, but they could never carry it over the top or even come close. That is his real legacy. It’s what he’ll retire on. Because going forward, that is what the thieving one percent of one percent is counting on to legitimize the new meaning of representative government; rental slavery.

  22. Jackrabbit

    The word ‘sequester’ means nothing to most people. How many ordinary people do you hear voicing their concern about the <> _sequester_?

    I wonder how many/few people have contacted their congresscritters to voice their concerns about this mildly-named ‘threat’ to their well being?


    The Repubs are probably MORE than happy to let the sequester happen – knowing that as soon as there is any hint of armed conflict (whether real or imagined) they can restore any military cuts.

    Shared sacrifice? ROTFLMFAO!

    1. different clue

      I myself am more than happy to let the sequester happen. The sequester holds harmless SS/Mcare by the very law passed to create the sequester. I have relatively nothing to lose from the sequester. I have relatively something to lose from
      passing the Grand Catfood Bargain which the sequester is designed to extort Congress into passing.

      1. Bridget

        And, of course, we can all assume that your have borne and raised the several children needed to support your SS/Mcare.

        BTW. Just compared prices at my local grocery store. Catfood is quite expensive per ounce in comparison to the rice and beans I and my family ate plenty of back in the day when I was bearing and raising children. The same I do not care to see sacrificed to those who couldn’t be bothered raising their own. Which you, hopefully, are not one of.

        1. different clue

          Catfood is something of a metaphor. It hearkens back to the days when poverty stricken old people ate catfood instead of tuna or other peoplefood.

  23. Daniel Sochor

    Reducing the deficit should be done gradually but we do need to start at some point. I would focus on :

    1) reducing unecessary military spending by reaching a nuclear reduction with Russia: you only need a few hundred nuclear missiles as a deterrent. And let’s phase out more weapons programs and a carrier or two. There is never going to be another world war in the nuclear age so why spend 25% of the feral (sic) budget preparing for one.

    2) government furloughs of 5%, i.e. one day off per month: that’s fairer that 5% of goverment workers having the wrenching experience of unemployment. Washington has grown 3x faster than the rest of the country: it’s time for a haircut.

    3) revisit the healthcare issue: We should have single payer Medicare for all like in Canada: same health outcomes but 30% less cost. It will also keep drug prices down. People are always welcome to top it off with a private plan if they want a private room or extra therapy. Also, let’s have a fat / BMI tax.

      1. LucyLulu

        In the UK and France, and perhaps others, the government provided healthcare can be supplemented with the purchase of a private plan. The private plan allows one to get added bells and whistles, e.g. the use of personal private physicians, private hospital rooms with tv and phone vs. a six-bed ward, shorter wait times for appointments, additional testing perhaps, etc. that the public healthcare plan doesn’t cover. It’s still considered a “single-payer” system because the national plan pays the same amount irregardless of having private insurance or not. The private carrier merely pays for any additional cost. My relatives in France (two are physicians) really like the arrangement, and I think it would be a great way to appease any concerns of those here who were concerned over lack of control of policy features a public option would have (and who had the means to pay).

        1. Daniel Sochor

          Thanks for providing some experience from other countries. Perhaps the biggest flaw in the US political system after the amount of money sloshing around is the notion of American exceptionalism – that there is nothing to learn from foreign experience. That notion is exceptionally stupid.

  24. Gerald Muller

    I thought at least one commentator would have mentioned L. Randall Wray’s last book, which he calls modestly a “primer” on Macroeconomics. He demonstrates clearly that this sequester business is a farce and that it would be possible to improve jobs as long as the “deficit” is correctly understood.

  25. Andrew P

    Obama wants the sequester because Obama plays a long game many moves ahead of his opponents. Obama’s goal is to retake the House in 2014, so he can redeem his legacy. He will be successful. And if the economy takes a major turn for the worse, Obama will be even more successful. He has set up a situation where he gets all credit for everything good and the GOP takes all blame for everything bad. And this GOP is not in a mindset capable of passing stimulus or bank bailouts, so if we have a repeat of 2008 (however unlikely this is), you could have a 100 seat Democratic pickup in the House.

  26. Truth

    let all the crimanal go so obama can keep spending all he wants, look what happen to Bob woodyard when he told Obama it is Madness to do such a thing, you are in office of Pres
    to protect the pople not kill them because you don’t get your way all the time, we can’t afford your way anymore.

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