Why a Bad Idea Won Over the WestMark Blyth
MARK BLYTH is Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University. His most recent book is Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea  (Oxford University Press, 2013), from which this essay is adapted. Copyright © Oxford University Press.
Unable to take constructive action toward any common end, the U.S. Congress has recently been reduced to playing an ongoing game of chicken with the American economy. The debt-ceiling debacle gave way to the “fiscal cliff,” which morphed into the across-the-board cuts in military and discretionary spending known as “sequestration.” Whatever happens next on the tax front, further cuts in spending seem likely. And so a modified form of the austerity that has characterized policymaking in Europe since 2010 is coming to the United States as well; the only questions are how big the hit will end up being and who will bear the brunt. What makes all this so absurd is that the European experience has shown yet again why joining the austerity club is exactly the wrong thing for a st