(Edited from my remarks in comments at Ta-Nehisi Coates blog.)
This is not accident or weakness, but rather policy.
I will repeat myself and say that there are four main factions in Congress at this point. From right to left these are: Tea Party
Republican, Wall Street Republican, Conservative Democratic, and
Progressive Democratic. For some time now, the Democrats have been
dominated by their conservative wing, which has formed a coalition with
the Wall Street Republicans. This "centrist" coalition, centrist only in
that it is the center of a political spectrum skewed heavily to the
right, has little interest in social justice. The combination of deficit
hysteria and the sequester provides a way for the centrist coalition to
chip away at social programs and all the while claim that it is
necessary while allowing both parties to escape blame. "It is no-one's
fault," they say, "it is necessary to save the country from debt."
Faugh! Such "logic" was heard in the English Parliament, as the Irish
And it is coming to that. Outright starvation, at least, is so far rare, but hunger is common. In 2011, the USDA found
that some 50 million Americans were malnourished due to poverty ("food
insecure") at some point in the year and some 33 million went hungry
("low food security") at some time during the year. The Women, Infants,
and Children Program (WIC), which provides food assistance to
low-income pregnant women and children under five, is subject to the
sequester. Outside of the sequester, in 2010, food stamps was converted
to SNAP, and cut. The cuts are continuing.
Our elected representatives, seemingly, have gone mad.