U.K. embraces 'age of austerity'

Thursday - 10/21/2010, 1:55pm EDT

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said his country is entering an "age of austerity." The Conservative-led coalition outlined a plan Wednesday that eliminates half a million government jobs, cuts welfare benefits and reduces $131 billion in other public spending by 2015, The Washington Post reports.

The average cuts to government departments will be 19% over the next four years, less than the 25 percent originally projected, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The U.K. is joining other large European countries -- including France, Germany and Spain -- that have reined in spending. President Obama has warned Europe against aggressive cuts for fear of returning to another recession. So far, Europe has ignored the warning, the Journal reports.

There's one area the U.K. has not cut -- funding to its special forces, which are "much-valued" by the American, according to The Economist. Overall, there will be "pain all around, but nothing fatal" to the U.K. military, Cameron said.

Lessons for the U.S.?
The U.S. may find some lessons in the U.K.'s embrace of austerity, according to a blog in the Economist, The U.K. spending cuts are only an announcement now, but with the left and right working together, the cuts are expected to pass the Parliament. Such legislative decisiveness is unlikely in the Congress, where there is "no incentive for Republicans to favour increased taxes or for Democrats to cut spending."

How Europe has tackled budget deficits also points to the importance of medium-range planning -- not just solutions for the short-term. For example, raising the retirement age won't have an immediate impact on the economy, but shows governments are trying to solve longer-term problems, according to the blog.

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