Republicans want austerity now and always

The current recession/depression has shown that austerity is a bad thing to try during recessions, which means that Republicans want to put it into the Constitution:

Senate Republicans are launching a major new push to encourage the adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, an effort with little chance of success but one that will allow the GOP a new way to frame their criticisms of Democratic spending.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced the legislation Wednesday. They were joined by all other Senate Republicans as co-sponsors.

Their amendment would require that the president submit a balanced budget to Congress that would include spending that totaled no more than 18 percent of the gross domestic product and require that Congress adopt a budget with spending capped at the same figure. Government spending for the 2013 fiscal year has risen to 22.2 percent. The Republican amendment would also require a two-third super majority to raise taxes or the nation’s legal debt ceiling.

Somebody really needs to tell them how recessions work. Here’s the usual generic way a recession works: there’s an economic shock of some kind which leads people and companies to spend less; since people and companies are spending less, the companies lay off workers; workers spend less because either they lost their job or are afraid they will; companies respond by spending less and laying off more workers; repeat. Government can help to break this cycle in two ways: automatic spending such as unemployment payments and welfare (which automatically increase as workers lose their jobs); stimulus spending. In either case, deficit spending is required–this is basic Keynesian economics (yeah, I know, Republicans don’t believe in it even though it has proven itself over and over again). Republicans not only want to make it impossible for the government to help end recessions, they also want a big cut in government spending (a cut from 22.2 to 18% of GDP would be a cut of about 20%) and they want to do it as spending should be increasing because of the aging of the US population. It really makes no sense.

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