Editor's letter: Sabotaging the economy

If not for the multiple “fiscal crises” created by Congress over the past two years, the robust economic recovery everyone’s been waiting for would finally be underway.

If not for the multiple “fiscal crises” created by Congress over the past two years, another 2 million Americans would have jobs. The unemployment rate would have dropped below 6.7 percent, and the growth of the GDP would be about 4 percent, instead of 2.5 percent. The robust economic recovery everyone’s been waiting for would finally be underway. So says a new study commissioned by longtime Republican deficit hawk Pete Peterson—no liberal. The analysis, conducted by Macroeconomic Advisers, a nonpartisan consulting firm, found that Congress’s fiscal-cliff and debt-ceiling emergencies have unsettled markets and employers, kept consumers in a cautious crouch, and paralyzed the entire system with uncertainty. The 5 percent annual cut in federal spending forced by the sequester, the economists found, has been too drastic and has retarded growth. America’s economy, in other words, is being actively sabotaged. Such self-destructive behavior is anything but conservative: Vigorous growth would flood the Treasury with tax dollars and shrink the deficit.

One of the flaws of democracy is that a small group of angry zealots can exert outsized influence. Just 18 percent of the U.S. population is represented by the congressmen who forced the latest crisis, but these extremists have intimidated Republican leaders, who value their own jobs more than yours. Most Americans are not intensely partisan, so when the crazies turn government into a bar fight and the broken bottles and chairs fly, the silent majority simply duck and become chagrined spectators. Disapproval, however, may not be sufficient to end the sabotage. Perhaps it’s time for the other 82 percent to get good and mad.

William Falk

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