Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yet More Proof Austerity Kills, But That Won 't Stop the Repugs

Facts and reality have never stopped them from pushing their kill-the-poor agenda before; why should they change now?
Seth D. Michaels at TPM:
Unfortunately for them, all of the arguments they like to deploy in favor of safety-net cuts are collapsing.

The CBO announced today that the federal budget deficit has fallen to a five-year low:
It's the smallest deficit recorded since 2008. FY2014 was the fifth consecutive year the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP. It is now an estimated 2.8% of GDP, a percentage that puts it below the average of the past 40 years.
There are many reasons for this, both good and bad - but the biggest takeaway is that deficit reduction is a consequence of economic growth, rather than a prerequisite for growth, as politicians of both parties have spent so much time arguing.

One result is that politicians are spending less time talking about the deficit, which in itself is a positive outcome, because it knocks away one of the first arguments for pointlessly cruel safety-net cuts.

Indeed, the “pivot to deficits” that happened before economic recovery was even underway has hurt the economy more in the long term. The last few years of showdowns, shutdowns and compromise cuts have been a huge wasted opportunity:
Austerity has also hurt more than we thought — so much so that it might even be self-defeating. That's right: cutting spending in a slump might actually make debt problems worse.
The rush to trim deficits led to lost jobs, cuts to food stamps, and the end of extended unemployment benefits, long before the recovery

So you’ll be less likely to hear arguments about a future debt crisis that needs to be imminently solved with cuts to the major social safety net programs; instead, you’re more likely to hear what I’ll call the “unleash” argument: the notion that we need overall cuts to the size and role of government in order to jump-start our economy.
No, you won't. You'll hear them even more loudly and effectively.  The austerity hysterics never quit.

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