Ed Stein's commentary:
The showdown in Washington over budget cuts is on, big time. This one isn’t for the faint of heart. The Republican leadership in the House gave in to its radical new members and passed deep cuts to programs essential the nation’s health, and especially to those suffering the most in this economy. The Democrats, ever willing to give in on their supposed principles to appease the permanent anger of the Right, have proposed their own, less severe cuts, along with a sensible set of proposals for growing the economy, which of course require a certain amount of investment, something that has become a dirty word in the bizarre world of conservative politics, which sees cuts to the government as the only possible policy.
On the state level, we’re seeing drastic slashes as governors and legislatures try desperately to deal with the wreckage of the meltdown. The GOP has demonized taxes so much over the last few decades that we now live in a country where the traditional budgeting tools are no longer available to us. Democrats and Republicans used to understand that a careful mix of tax and spending policy always involved raising and lowering budgets and taxes to deal with the vagaries of the economy, and that governments could and should invest in certain parts of the economy to keep it vibrant and to help it grow. We invest in education, medical and scientific research, we help small businesses develop, we point the way to the future by promoting space exploration, innovations in energy and computer technology. All those investments help create new consumer products and spawn new industries. Republicans no longer believe that government can do anything right. If Democrats still believe in its proper role, they are keeping it to themselves. Now, we are reduced to a single tool, the axe.