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Coming Sequester Cuts Will Make Most of Americans' Lives Worse -– And People Are Mobilizing

In just over a week the government is probably going to enter full-scale austerity.

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Jobs And Economic Growth

As Atrios says repeatedly at his Eshaton blog,  Contractionary policy is contractionary. Austerity — cutting back on the things government does to make our lives better — cuts back on jobs and growth. England has learned this. The rest of Europe has learned this.

When you slash government the economy slows, tax revenue decreases, “safety net” program costs go up, and deficits increase. It is just a fact. It is just math. And now it is proven by what has happened in all the countries that have tried it.

Even Defense Cuts Done Wrong

Yes, we need to cut the defense budget, but in a planned way, not all at once with a meat-ax that lays off thousands of people who work in this area. The Pentagon  has announced it will furlough 800,000 people. That is 800,000 paychecks that will be cut — people who pay rent or mortgages and shop at local grocery stores and clothing stores. Those stores will have to cut back, etc.

Republicans Caused It, Try To Blame Obama

The sequester is spending cuts that Republicans have been demanding, to “reduce the size of government.” But now that it is actually occurring, they are trying to deflect blame.

Even though it is Republicans who want government cut, who brought this on by taking the debt ceiling hostage and demanding cuts, who constantly demand cuts to make government “smaller”, who harp on the evils of government in general, and overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that is forcing this and Democrats overwhelmingly voted against it, are trying to say this isn’t their doing.

But John Avlon, at The Daily Beast, writes in  The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All,

… the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating.

But here’s the thing. I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.”

It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.”

It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.

The presentation lays out the deal in clear terms, describing the spending backstop as “automatic across-the-board cuts (‘sequestration’). Same mechanism used in 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement.”

Please click through and see the rest.

The Choices

The President says Republicans have a choice: compromise and close loopholes for corporations and billionaires or let the sequester kill jobs and growth and hurt people. From The Hill,  Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilians

“Republicans in Congress face a simple choice,” the president said Tuesday. “Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and healthcare and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?”

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