Thursday, the Senate fell just short of passing a balanced budget amendment, a radical provision that shows just how far to the right the current discourse on fiscal matters has moved. The amendment picks up the oft-repeated right-wing comparison of the federal budget to the family purse: you have to make sure what your household spends on the mortgage, car payments and food doesn’t exceed your pay check. For the government, this means it would be prohibited from spending more than it makes off taxes.
This week progressives opposed to the GOP austerity agenda cut proposal gained some great talking points, first from a leaked Goldman Sachs study that projected the plan would decrease the GDP by 2 percent and raise unemployment by 1 percent, and then from a Moody’s Analytics report from Mark Zandi that projected it would destroy 700,000 jobs.
Yesterday the GAO issued a report commissioned by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn detailing areas where government programs are redundant, wasteful or otherwise inefficient. In total it projects the government could save between $100 and $200 billion by cutting these programs, a figure Republicans seized on as proof that government is bloated, wasteful and in need of trimming.
Given the seemingly insurmountable divide between House Republicans and the Obama administration on the budget, Jamellesees a government shutdown as inevitable when funding runs out on March 4. It’s not unrealistic to draw this conclusion when you consider that the radical budget containing $60 billion in cuts passed by House Republicans last week was already a compromise for the strident first-term Tea Party caucus, which wanted even larger cuts and says it is unwilling to compromise further.
The international border in Nogales, Arizona (Flickr/Ryan Bavetta)
In the last two years, President Barack Obama has introduced border-enforcement policies that are stricter than those of his predecessors, leading to record numbers of deportations and massive spending on security resources. In this month's issue of The American Prospect, Adam Serwer recounts the crackdown's effects on the Democrats' support among Hispanic voters. The stricter policies are also having a tremendous impact on life along the U.S.-Mexico border, where drug- and human-trafficking networks are evolving in new and violent ways.