With two days to go before "sequestration" chops an indiscriminate $85 billion out of Federal government spending, the blame game has reached a fever pitch.
Democrats are blaming Republicans.
Republicans are blaming Democrats.
And everyone, to some extent, seems to be blaming President Obama.
And that's fair, says William Black, professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri.
President Obama did not vote the sequester into law--Congress did--but Obama has also not yet tried a relatively simple way to stop it. Professor Black thinks Obama should have floated a simple, clean bill that gave Congress the chance to vote to stop the sequester. That way, even if Congress went ahead and allowed the sequester to happen, current members would be on record as having voted for or against it.
(Right now, many Congress-people can just blame their predecessors and Obama).
Meanwhile, with the sequester seemingly a done deal, some people are arguing that it's actually fine, that we have to cut spending some way, so this is as good a way as any.
Professor Black rejects that view.
Cutting spending now, he says, will kneecap economic growth for the next year and possibly throw us back into recession. And the indiscriminate nature of the cuts will wallop government services that most Americans like and depend on. The sequester, Black says, is awful policy, and it is an entirely a self-inflicted wound.
So how about after the sequester is enacted? What happens then? Will these manufactured crises finally be behind us?
No, says Black.
After the sequester, we'll quickly progress to another crisis--the fighting over another continuing resolution or budget to keep the government open past March 27th. And then, in May, if it hasn't been dealt with already, we'll have another fight over the debt ceiling.
Our government seems determined to inflict enormous and painful uncertainty on the economy and markets, Black says. And it is doing an exceptional job of making sure that it does that.
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