A BUDGET AX IN THE FACE FOREVER
Even after we get done responding to our godawful employment numbers in the most perverse way possible -- by upping the level of austerity and cutting even more government jobs (which are, after all, actual jobs paying actual money that the economy desperately needs), do you know what's going to happen? The right-wingers are going to say that the budget-cutting isn't really cutting at all:
... On Thursday's "Special Report" on the Fox News Channel, [Bill] Kristol said the Republicans were going to give in and agree to the terms set forth by the Obama administration.
"It sounds as if it's heading towards a deal," Kristol said. "It's not a deal that I'm going to like I suspect, and think I it's going to be a bad deal for conservatives and Republicans but I think they're intimidated," Kristol said. "The president has been running around talking about corporate jets and the rich, and how the sky is going to fall unless Republicans cave. And I think they're getting ready to cave in a pretty big way on Sunday.”
Basing it on what Republicans leaders have said publicly, Kristol forecast that defense spending cuts, tax increases and other cuts would be dressed up to be more than they really are in the end. And that would lead to a conservative revolt against Republicans.
"So great, we have a Republican House, and they are going to agree to the huge defense cuts, tax increases, phony spending cuts and increased debt," Kristol said. "I think there will be a huge rebellion among conservatives in the country if Republicans sign on to this deal."
And as Jonathan Chait notes, this argument was also recently made by James Capretta of National Review:
In the current fight, it's quite clear what President Obama and his allies are trying to accomplish. First, they want a package upon which the president can campaign in 2012. Something on the order of a "$3 trillion deficit-cutting program" (no matter how phony) -- or even $2 trillion -- would help the president downplay the big-spending, liberal image that most independent voters now have of him.
(Emphasis added again.)
Chait calls this "what I suspect is going to be the emerging conservative line on a deficit agreement." I'm sure he's right. So when we're done with this exercise, and the savage cuts doesn't improve the economy or reduce unemployment, we'll be told that they didn't work because we didn't do any real cutting -- and now we're going to have to start the job of getting rid of "big government."
I don't know how long the Republicans can keep this up. I suppose they'll do it until (a) we're literally a failed state that's devolved into anarchy or (b) they take over the entire government, at which point deficits and big government (at least the parts that don't upset the plutocrats) won't matter, will they?