Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large for Fortune, thinks the country needs another financial crisis to get back on track.
He wrote in Fortune that Congress has forgotten about the automatic federal budget cuts -- known as the sequester -- and hasn't done much of anything to help the sluggish economy.
Except for the Federal Reserve, which has consistently tried to help the economy, misguided though some of its actions may be, about the only real changes our government has made since the onset of the financial crisis were induced by fear. The Troubled Asset Relief Program, which played a vital role in restoring confidence and stability to the financial system, was passed only because the House's rejection of it on Sept. 28, 2008, set off a 778-point plummet in the Dow. That scared the House into reversing itself.
The only parts of the budget sequester -- an exercise in economic idiocy -- that have been modified are the FAA's cutbacks that caused air-travel delays bad enough to scare politicians into action and the food inspectors who were rescued after the meat and poultry industry spoke out in support of them. The sequester, remember, was a doomsday device created to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, on the assumption that sequestration was so stupid and damaging that people would do anything to keep it at bay. Yet here it is.
Now, for the third time in two years, we're dealing with a debt-ceiling drama. The previous two times Republicans played this game -- the summer of 2011 and year-end 2012 -- they damaged the country's financial credibility for no discernible gain to themselves. Why they think the third time will be the charm is beyond me. I blame the Republicans (my former party) more than I blame the Democrats (my previous former party) for our national gridlock. But the Democrats are no prizes either.
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LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SEQUESTER
• Reid says sequester has already cost 1.6 million jobs
PoltiFact concludes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid uses some questionable math in his claim the sequester cost 1.6 million jobs and that his claim is false.
• What the sequester has wrought for defense
Foreign Policy looks at Department of Defense cuts tied to the sequester and warns: "As America cuts back on its operations, including exercises with allies, port visits, and other manifestations of American presence, credibility, deterrence of adversaries, and reassurance to friends worldwide, the international community will take notice."
• Cantor hints at sequester compromise
On Fox News Sunday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., suggested "Republicans could be open to a deal on the sequester if it includes cuts to entitlement programs." (The Hill)
• If anything can inspire sympathy for government employees, it's the sequester
"Congress is probably one of the worst bosses in the world. In March, the sequestration kicked in, the functional equivalent of your boss strolling into your office and demanding you unilaterally cut costs by eight percent. No other guidance; you just need to make everything you do one-twelfth less expensive. After three years pay freezes for your entire organization." (The Atlantic)
• Sequester to hit public defenders, U.S. attorney in Minnesota
The Pioneer Press looks at how automatic spending cuts on Oct. 1 will affect Minnesota's legal system. "U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, chief judge of the District of Minnesota, said he is 'deeply disturbed' about the cuts and warned, 'At some point, things will start breaking down.'"