The Democrats have struggled to pass any sort of reform, with the Republicans vetoing anything they can.
The right wing thinking of some of the Republicans echoed some of the opinions here in Victorian Britain - that being poor is your own fault, you're just lazy or not working hard enough. The insurance companies need to make a profit. We don't want a socialist America.
Yaddah yaddah yaddah.
We in Britain watched and shook our heads and extolled the virtue of our beloved NHS. We couldn't understand how some Americans could be so backwards thinking and so uncaring towards their fellow countrymen.
Now, thanks to George Osborne and his austerity measures, the joke is on us. The Americans are now shaking their heads as they look at us and wonder how on earth a Government could be so foolhardy as to adopt these measures.
From Paul Krugman of the New York Times:
It was all about the apocalypse looming if Britain failed to go down this route. Never mind that British debt as a percentage of national income is actually below its historical average; never mind that British interest rates stayed low even as the nation’s budget deficit soared, reflecting the belief of investors that the country can and will get its finances under control. Britain, declared Mr. Osborne, was on the “brink of bankruptcy.”
What happens now? Maybe Britain will get lucky, and something will come along to rescue the economy. But the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump. As always, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
The truly sad thing is, most of us know this. But Mr Osborne refuses to listen.