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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crisis looms!

We are about a week away from major mandatory budget cuts and Congress ... is on vacation.

The latest round of Washington Chicken is in high gear with the March 1 deadline for the imposition of the first round of $1.2 trillion in budget cuts looming. That means its time for our elected leaders to rouse from their slumber.

Barack Obama took a few days of golfing r and r. Congress? Well it's school vacation week somewhere and if Congress is a big place with a lot of people acting childish, why shouldn't they take a week?

Obama took advantage of the unequal stage to a campaign-like presentation of what's at stake if he and lawmakers cannot come to a resolution on the deal they struck in 2011 to delay tough decisions until 2012. And then again on New Year's Day to kick the can another two months down the road.

When last we left, Congress agreed to restore higher income taxes on those earning more than $450,000 annually. Questions about across the board cuts from education to the Pentagon were held in abeyance for two months.

In those two months the GOP congressional leadership has waged open warfare on Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel and attempted to turn the Benghazi tragedy into the second coming of Watergate. They whined and moaned about Obama's "liberal" inaugural address and were left dry-mouthed after his State of the Union address.

But can anyone point to anything concrete they have offered to address the issues facing us?

Oh sure, there's the usual bleating about "the revenue debate is now closed" because it would be unfair to hang everything on the "job creators" who haven't been doing their jobs.

And there is the knee-jerk reaction to oppose anything Obama offers, even if it may have had conservative roots at some point -- from health care to immigration.

Obama has moved into the void as economists offer estimates the first round of mandatory cuts could mean the loss of 700,000 jobs and quarter of a percentage point increase in the unemployment rate.

Which of course means that the federal government is the real job creator, particularly since the private sector is sitting on its hands waiting for Washington to do something constructive.

It's long been obvious that elected officials need deadlines to finally get their acts in gear. But perhaps they need additional incentives -- like the loss of pay, eviction and a steady diet of ramen noodles to get in touch with the reality caused by their preference for political gamesmanship over leadership.

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