What If The Sequester Passes, And Life Goes On?


At Reason, Peter Suderman wonders if the opponents of the sequester spending reductions are worried about the impact of those reductions, or that the reductions might not hurt that bad at all:

The display of spending-cut scare tactics offer a window in the worldview of those who seem to believe that government spending is the fuel on which the economy runs, and to undertake any kind of federal spending reduction at all is to start a journey to an apocalyptic hellscape. One can only imagine what they’d say about a package that, unlike the sequester, actually cut spending over the next decade, or even just held it flat at current levels.

If you want a clue as to what some sequester opponents fear the most, though, check out what health care lobbyist Emily Holubowich, who represents 3,000 nonprofits opposed to the sequester, told The Washington Post on Saturday: “The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2,” she said. “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”

That’s the real fear here: not that sequestration will result in terrible things happening, but that it won’t result in very much at all, that few will notice or be deeply upset by its effects, and that people will learn to live with a government that spends very slightly less than it was planning to over the next ten years (though still far more than it did for the vast majority of the last decade).

Obama and the Democrats have a lot invested in the idea that the government is the driver of the economy. They can’t afford to let Americans get the idea that their prosperity comes from somewhere other than government.

They can’t let Americans get the idea that maybe our government is too bloated, and could actually be quite a bit smaller without hurting anyone.