The same people who pushed the Iraq War on us are now pushing fiscal austerity. Can you name any austerity hawks in this country who were not big Iraq War supporters? The arguments are similar too. We needed to invade Iraq to ward off the looming danger of WMD and spread freedom; we need to cut our budgets to ward off the bond vigilantes and teach ourselves discipline.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously, federal deficits can be problematic. I opposed the Bush tax cuts as well as their recent extension and believe that marginal rates for the wealthy should probably be higher than they were under Clinton (some of the deficit hawks believe the same thing, so I am not saying that they are all entirely crazy). The fact is, though, that we are in a recession and there is ample historical evidence to suggest that cutting spending is not a good thing during a recession.
With Iraq, we were told that we were for it or against it, that if we were worried that it might be an expensive disaster, then we were Neville Chamberlains, or even traitors. Real patriots don’t do nuance! It’s the same here, if you argue that we need radical changes down the road (my radical changes would involve tax rates and the medical system) but not massive spending cuts during the worse recession in 70 years, then you’re just “kicking can down the road”.
The middle part of the country — the great Red Zone that reveres Paul Ryan — is clearly ready for fiscal austerity. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead—and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.
Update. Ron Paul is an austerity hawk who opposed the Iraq War. I’d argue that he’s sui generis, given that military spending is one of the prime targets for his proposed austerity measures.