The $1.2tn in automatic spending cuts that Barack Obama once promised to avert are looking increasingly likely to occur because of entrenched politics in Washington, threatening a shock to confidence in the US economy.
Economists have long assumed that the so-called sequester ”“ a budgetary mechanism passed in 2011 that takes effect on March 1 and slashes the Pentagon’s budget by $600bn over 10 years while cutting discretionary spending for government programmes by another $600bn ”“ would be replaced or reversed by Congress.
Many saw a recent move by Republicans on Capitol Hill to extend the US borrowing authority as a sign of greater co-operation with the White House. But conservative lawmakers have recently made it clear that they were simply gearing up for another fight, and are prepared to take a hard line on the $1.2tn in cuts even amid objections from military hawks.
Read it all (may require subscription).