American deficit hawks gathered in the nation's capital on Wednesday to commiserate over the collapse of the U.S. austerity movement, solemnly hobnobbing with political royalty to reminisce about the days when slashing Social Security seemed all but inevitable.
Simpson and Bowles and austerity's other sales people aren't really economic thinkers. They're paid to pitch a product. They didn't invent austerity any more than Alex Rodriguez invented Pepsi. But what they're peddling isn't a soft drink. It's a lot worse for you than that.
Imagine that a substantial group of the most prominent astronomer insisted that the sun goes around the earth, as anyone can plainly see. There would likely be huge numbers of people who refused to accept that the earth goes around the sun. This is the state of modern economics.
I can only think of this metaphor, which I believe is apt: There's a ticking time bomb in your living room, you know the bomb will certainly explode in 10 to 15 years, and you choose only to reassure your family, "There is no 'immediate' danger." That is pretty much the situation we face today.
When fiscal crises become the "new normal" the public begins to remember that they elected politicians to do a job. And part of their job description is to take care of the public purse and not to create problems where none exist.
In addition to his current duties as professional-liberal-even-Joe-Sixpack-can-love on MSNBC, Ballard Spahr court jester, Rendell is currently co-chairing the steering committee of something called The CEO Campaign To Fix The Debt.
Conventional wisdom currently is that the sequester deadline will pass and then Washington will come up with some sort of compromise solution. Perhaps just in time for the next self-inflicted crisis.