The Failure of Austerity Politics

The Failure of Austerity Politics

Austerians won the day in Europe—and now the people are paying the price. 

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Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

“We are headed to a Greece-type collapse,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has warned repeatedly, while indicting President Obama’s stimulus plan. Romney promises to slash spending and balance the budget to unleash growth.

Only now his warning provides a starkly different caution. Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Britain—the countries that have responded to the economic crisis by focusing on slashing their deficits—are sinking. And the ruin inflicted on Greece threatens its democracy, as riots and resistance spread.

The advocates of austerity—here and in Europe—have argued that cutting spending and reducing deficits, even with interest rates already near zero, would revive the economy. The irresponsible—other than the banks—would be disciplined. This would reassure investors and “job creators,” and they would invest and start to hire again. With an added refrain about deregulation, this remains the mantra chanted ceaselessly by Republicans.

Editor’s Note: Read the full-text of Katrina’s column here.

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