Considering the devastating impact of the Great Recession in 2008 and the subsequent years of slow but steady recovery, one would think Congressional lawmakers would do anything and everything in their power to protect the fragile U.S. economy. In light of recent elections dominated by economic considerations, one would expect legislators would have a vested interest in ensuring the economy continues to recover.
So, it comes as an unpleasant surprise that after members of Congress narrowly averted the worst of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” they are yet again facing an impending fiscal disaster in the form of the sequester, a massive automatic spending cut that slashes $1.3 trillion from the U.S. budget between over the next eight years. The sequester was intended to be a set of across the board budget cuts so horrific it would force a super-committee of lawmakers to come up with a deficit-reducing compromise. What could possibly go wrong with this plan? Oh, yeah, it turns out the one thing Congress has been incapable of accomplishing in recent years is compromise.
It’s like a Shakespearian play — Congress members made a series of questionable decisions, which led them into a situation in which the only way out was compromise, and yet their fatal flaw is when it comes to compromise, they are completely inept. The end result? Everyone loses — except at least in Shakespeare, there is some beautiful dramatic tragedy involved and some emotionally-charged soliloquies — for Americans, there’s just the risk of a shattered recovery and economic downturn. That makes Congress the loser of the week.