An Age of Austerity or More Smoke and Mirrors?

Many liberals point to budget cuts wrangled for by Republicans as the reason that the economy has not been able to recover from recession territory. Austerity, they claim, is harming growth. Meanwhile, many conservatives, particularly Tea Party-backed Republicans who were elected last year, claim that those same budget cuts have hearkened a new era of financial responsibility and smaller government which will lead the nation back to prosperity. Though it is plain to see that the ends of the political spectrum heartily disagree on what budget cuts mean for Americans, there at least seems to be some agreement that America is in cutting mode.

However maybe even this underlying assumption isn't correct. And, if it isn't, then many of either side's popular talking points would seem to be invalidated. According to Treasury Department data noted by investors.com, it appears that both federal and state spending are actually higher year over year. This, of course, doesn't account for the fact that potential cuts have yet to kick in. However, it does provide a basis to both discount liberal economists' claims that austerity is undercutting growth and ignore conservative politicians' claims that they have accomplished anything of note since the 'Tea Party Revolution.'

Presumably, if the agreements which have been put into place are honored, cuts are coming. They might harm the economy, they might save our government from itself. Maybe history will show that they were a crowning accomplishment for conservatives, maybe they will be viewed in retrospect as a great failure. Depending on one's economic models of choice and political viewpoints guesses can be made either way. However it is impossible to know for sure what will happen until it happens.

In the meantime, it would be nice if everyone involved could at least get on the same page about what cuts are and when they are going to happen. Until then, this confusion and obfuscation can only continue to reduce the level of educated and reasoned political dialog in the US.

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