For a politician, posturing to be fiscally responsible is very convenient. In the name of cutting the deficit, you justify the wackiest measures. And you cut the fat where it is not. Republicans in Congress want to slash unemployment benefits if Bush tax cuts for the rich are not extended after December of this year…because, you know, the rich might not spend as much as before and that’s bad for the economy.
In New York City, the mayor’s crusade against obesity too rides the horse of fiscal austerity. The victims: perhaps food stamps beneficiaries, and Rikers Island inmates. In the city, rehabilitation will now entail a new dimension: being slim. How? Six slices of bread a day instead of eight, no more chocolate and vanilla puddings for the inmates. Savings: $ 350,000 a year. What are we talking about? 0.015% of a $ 2.367 billion gap to be closed for fiscal year 2012. Paternalism is politically cheap and fiscally inconsequential.