Austerity is back in the news, and the news about austerity is never good. We've only had de facto austerity on this side of the pond. So as usual, the news is from Europe, where the austerians are going full-tilt boogie. Our homegrown austerians, like their European counterparts, tell us that the kind of severe austerity underway in Europe is necessary to reduce the deficit. Everything from food stamps to Medicaid and Medicare — everything except defense spending — must be cut in order to reduce the deficit.
The thing is, it hasn't worked. In Greece, Europe's austerity poster child, austerity has shrunk the economy and increased the national debt.
Greece's draft budget for 2013 has forecast a deeper recession and worse debt problems than previously thought.
The economy is expected to shrink by 4.5% next year, and government debts to rise to 189% of economic output.
Greece held inconclusive negotiations with its rescue lenders on Wednesday over the economic reforms needed to release further bailout funds.
The government also faces opposition to the reforms from coalition partners and unions have called a general strike.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras held a conference call on Wednesday with his counterparts from the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, as well as representatives of the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said afterwards that Athens still needed to do more.
Austerity is literally killing Greece. Yet the austerians demand more.
Austerity only increased inequality in Portugal. Now, after painful austerity measures that hit ordinary Portuguese and public sector workers hardest failed to reduce the deficit, Portuguese citizens are planning to rally against new tax increases.
Anti-austerity protesters in Portugal are planning street rallies as the country's parliament is expected to approve big tax rises in a new budget.
The centre-right government in Lisbon is hoping to reduce its budget deficit as part of the 78bn-euro (£63bn; $101bn) EU-IMF bailout deal.
However, the proposed 2013 budget could face a challenge in court.
Portugal has already cut public sector wages and raised taxes, triggering a series of street demonstrations.
Unemployment in Portugal is at a record high, and people have faced sharp reductions in their incomes. None of it seems to have made a dent in Portugal's debt problem. Yet the austerians demand more.