Austerity Forever, British Style

You can say this about conservatives in the United Kingdom: they are a lot more upfront about the unhappy impact of their policies, per this report from the New York Times‘ Julia Werdigier and Steven Castle:

Britons, many already weary of government austerity budgets that some economists blame for impeding the country’s recovery, are going to have to wait even longer for relief.

The architect of the austerity program, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, told Parliament on Wednesday that the government had missed one of its self-imposed debt-cutting targets and would have to extend the belt-tightening into 2018, a year longer than previously promised.

Although Mr. Osborne maintained that the debt reduction plan was still on track, his presentation drew heckling and laughter from some opposition lawmakers, particularly after he argued that new tax measures would show that “we’re all in this together.”

These announcements involving regularly delayed relief from austerity are reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s famous play, Waiting for Godot, which features endless variations on this conversation between two characters:

ESTRAGON:
He should be here.
VLADIMIR:
He didn’t say for sure he’d come.
ESTRAGON:
And if he doesn’t come?
VLADIMIR:
We’ll come back tomorrow.
ESTRAGON:
And then the day after tomorrow.
VLADIMIR:
Possibly.

Perhaps austerity will end the day after tomorrow–or after the elections currently scheduled for 2015.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.