Those who can do. Those who can’t form a supercommittee. Those who can’t produce a majority vote in a supercommittee sequester. Those who can’t even sequester are telling the world something profound about American inertia.
As Veronique points out below, the “automatic” sequestration cuts would over the course of ten years reduce US public debt by only $153 billion. Which boils down to about a month’s worth of the current federal deficit.
Yet even slashing a pimple’s worth of borrowing out of the great oozing mountain of pustules will prove too much for Washington.
Another downgrade is now inevitable. After that, all that’s holding the joint up is the dollar’s status as global currency. If the world were looking around for a reserve currency today, I doubt it would pick that of a $15 trillion sinkhole. This week’s failure will hasten the urge of the Chinese and others to arrange a post-dollar order. I wrote earlier this year about America’s inclination to do everything big. And so it goes even with imperial eclipse: We are inviting nothing so genteel as “decline” but rather a sudden convulsive collapse.
Forget the Supercommittee; the timidity of the GOP frontrunners is far more disturbing. In a sane polity, they would be competing over the abolition of departments, the rollback of regulatory tyranny, the shrinking of entitlements – not to mention flying commercial and making do with a mere 20-car motorcade. This close to the abyss, public discourse is nowhere near where it ought to be.
(Headline courtesy of Otto Harbach, whose “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” also seems oddly relevant to this week’s alleged “drama”.)