Alan Simpson, right, and Erskine Bowles, left, co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, testify on Capitol Hill, March 8, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Cue the return of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, frontmen for American austerity.
If sequestration is not averted by the end of the month, America will experience an arbitrary austerity agenda that shifts burdens from the wealthy onto working families. It makes across-the-board cuts to vital services. As President Obama noted Tuesday, sequestration would impose "automatic brutal spending cuts" to job creation, infrastructure and education initiatives. It would, as well, slash funding for air traffic control, federal prosecutions and Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that make it possible for states and local governments to hire needed firefighter and emergency personnel.
Even the parts of the sequester that are appealing -- squeezing the bloated Department of Defense budget -- will tend to harm low-wage federal employees rather than billionaire defense contractors.
Most troubling, sequestration will slow, and perhaps stall, the economic recovery. "This is not an abstraction," says President Obama. "People will lose their jobs."
By any measure, the sequester is austerity.
The former Republican senator and defeated Democratic senate candidate who praises Paul Ryan's budget don't particularly like the death-by-slow-cuts of sequestration. They prefer a full frontal assault on the most vulnerable Americans and a redistribution of the wealth upward.