By Valentin Zorin
Even though Americans hoped that common sense and concern for the country’s interests would prevail and that the US authorities would save the country from sequestration, it didn’t happen.
The crisis that has been looming over the US economy has become a reality. After fruitless attempts to secure Congress’ approval for a deficit reduction scheme, President Obama introduced across-the-board cuts via sequestration.
In accordance with a presidential decree, budgetary spending will be cut by one trillion two hundred billion dollars. This will spell disaster for millions of Americans. Thousands of federal workers will be out of work, still thousands will lose their medical insurance and social benefits. Schools and daycare centers will close, leaving teachers jobless. Air travel will be disrupted because air traffic controllers will face job cuts as well.
The reason for such a drastic measure was the crippling $17 trillion state debt and an annually increasing budget deficit. This disproportionately huge debt and the government’s annually repeated failure to make both ends meet is largely the result of excessive military spending. Once the Republican administration of George W. Bush resumed the arms race immediately upon taking office in 2000, the deficit-free budget was replaced with growing debt.
By the arrival of Barack Obama, the debt had amounted to $13 trillion. Nevertheless, the arms race did not stop. As military spending in the 2013 fiscal year exceeds $630 billion, the state debt continues to increase. According to the US Department of the Treasury, the state debt may hit a whopping $19 trillion in the foreseeable future.
An austerity plan introduced by President Obama abolished tax exemptions on major corporations and the rich. Given that large corporations and billionaires account for the bulk of national wealth and yearly revenues, this measure was bound ease the tax burden and help the ailing US economy.
However, the Republican-dominated Congress continued to dig in its heels. During the debates that dragged on for weeks, the president tried to reason with the lawmakers but in vain. Eventually, on March 1st, he ordered sequester cuts the consequences of which are hard to foresee.
In its current form, the US Congress is but an elite club of ultra-right conservatives, which de facto makes it unable to express the interests of the American society. Congressmen endorse disproportionate military spending, launch unlawful acts like the Magnitsky Act, and doggedly stick to the Cold War stereotypes.
The Congress-provoked sequester serves the interests of big business which many of the lawmakers are working for. In addition, it runs counter to US national interests and may affect global economy. But it looks like those see themselves as part of the American national elite can’t care less.