I'm a little spent from the Atlas Shrugged opus on Monday so I will confine myself to a brief question today.
Obama has caved (stop me if you've heard that one before) and accepted the right-wing frame of the budget debate, thus the argument is no longer Austerity vs. Keynesian Growth but juvenile bickering over how to pursue austerity. This creates the necessary usual illusion of choice and debate in a political system that operates in a shockingly narrow intellectual and ideological envelope. As usual the right gets what it wants and all of the fuss amounts to rearranging deck chairs.
So remind me again how austerity is supposed to help. As Mike asks and I have asked before, let's say we have a magic wand that balances the budget for us; then what? What is the benefit? Do interest rates fall? They're already insanely low. Does unemployment fall? If so, how and why would we expect that? Are there businesses out there that want to hire but won't because of the budget deficit? This is what I get from the statements by Paul Ryan and like-minded conservatives: If we cut spending it will restore "confidence" to "the market" and suddenly the economy will start growing in leaps and bounds.
Phase One: Collect underpants / cut spending
Phase Two: ???
Phase Three: Economic growth / profits
I am sick to death of hearing about the deficit and austerity-as-panacea arguments that punt on the issue of what this is supposed to accomplish entirely. To hear Mitch McConnell tell the tale, we will cut entitlement programs and then, I guess, somehow, everything is just going to be better. Magical sparkleponies will appear in your front yard shitting glittery, low fat (but full flavored!) frozen yogurt with your favorite toppings.
See, it's not really the ends that matter to the right, because the means – cutting taxes, gutting the welfare state, etc. – are the ends.