In another and now-routine indignant case of right-wing austerity-scoffing, Charles Krauthammer this morning does an outstanding job of misleading his readers. He opens:
"The worst-case scenario for us," a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Post, "is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens."
Think about that. Worst case? That a government drowning in debt should cut back by 2.2 percent--and the country survives. That a government now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar it spends reduces that borrowing by two cents "and nothing bad really happens." Oh, the humanity!
Krauthammer's is excellent snark, but it's possible only because he toys with what the lobbyist told the Post in full:
"The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2," said Emily Holubowich, a Washington health-care lobbyist who leads a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts. "The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad."
In other words, austerity's needless, inevitable pain might not only be deceptively deferred, but actually compounded in other near-term budget talks by the GOP's pretend obliviousness to even elementary economics. It's a perilous and ruthless strategy.
As the NY Times' Timothy Egan brilliantly frames it today in another, though representative, context: "This crop of gerrymander-bred lawmakers governs by putting people at risk to make political points."
Thus just one of the profoundly unconservative elements in contemporary conservatism, as practiced by the pseudoconservative Krauthammer & Co.: the jettisoning of genuine conservatism's Hippocratic oath, "First--and if nothing else--at least do no harm."
Prudence. Caution. A sensitivity to empirical consequences. Those are out, and in the Republican Party as dead as Burke. What's in is a fevered addiction to risk--with other people's lives.