WASHINGTON -- It's not the first time that government economic engineering has produced a time bomb with a short fuse.

Back in 2011, few lawmakers thought deep and indiscriminate spending cuts, totaling about $85 billion and now starting to kick in, were a smart idea.

The cuts are a reality largely because President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner failed to find a way to stop them.

MORE: Budget cut impact predictions map

History shows a long trail of unintended consequences from government actions - or inaction.

President Franklin Roosevelt won re-election in 1936 and believed the Great Depression was winding down.

Roosevelt and Congress thought it was time to cut free-flowing government spending and raise taxes. The Federal Reserve tightened its financial reins. But the fragile economy couldn't withstand the blows and the Depression roared back.

Associated Press