The "sequester" -- mindless, across-the-board spending cuts designed purposefully to be abhorrent to both political parties -- now seems likely to go into effect on March 1. If not reversed, we will see the degrading of all government services from food inspection to airport controls, as mass furloughs -- 20-30 day forced absences without pay -- shudder agencies.
The sequester cuts added to spending cuts and tax increases already scheduled will slow growth and cost jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office and most economic analysis. Government austerity has already contributed to the worst recovery in post-World War II history. In Europe, austerity has driven the economies back into recession, with the countries enforcing the harshest cuts suffering the most.
Why would the U.S. repeat this folly, despite warnings from the IMF and Federal Reserve officials? Every calamity has many authors -- Obama's premature turn to deficit reduction in 2009, the Tea Party zealots, a hapless and clueless Republican congressional leadership and more.