I am mildly heartened by the fact that the American public is not absolutely freaking out over a small percentage of the budget. It gives me hope that perhaps we can stomach more necessary reforms in the future. For the same reason, Democrats are worried that they’re not freaking out, which is why Greg Sargent at the Washington Post flags this McClatchy-Marist result:
When it comes to the impact of the automatic spending cuts on the economy, 40 percent of adults nationally say they have had no effect on the economy. 36 percent believe they have had a negative impact while 14 percent say the sequester cuts have had a positive one. 10 percent are unsure.
There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who think these across-the-board spending cuts have had little impact on the nation’s economy.
When McClatchy-Marist reported this question last month, 27% of residents thought sequestration would not affect the economy. Nearly half — 47 percent — said the economy would be adversely affected, and 19% thought it would be positively impacted. Seven percent, at that time, were unsure.
On the personal side, almost two-thirds of adults — 65 percent — say these automatic budget cuts have not had any effect on their family.
The “no effect” camp is up 13 points in a month, and the personal effect number is pretty brutal for fearmongers, too— 65 percent say the cuts have no effect on their family.
The sequestration will continue to ripple through the country and media coverage, but at this point, it seems unlikely public opinion against it would build to such a head that it would change the political calculus involved. The public is perfectly willing to blame Republicans for most problems, according to the rest of the poll, but they’re just not willing to believe this is as big a problem as they were told. No doubt, part of the reason is, for every genuine story of cutback pain, there seem to be more than a few that make the American public doubt all the stories they’ve been told.
For instance, a Sequester Scare Story Implosion, in Three Acts and The GOP Congressman Who Destroyed Obama’s Sequester Scare Story. The raft of sequester fibs floated by the White House and other members of the administration in the month between McClatchy’s last poll and this one may have something to do with that erosion.
But if the public doesn’t grow convinced that the sequester is hurting the economy, Republicans will probably be persuaded that they should continue to hold out against any compromise to replace the sequester, in the belief that the public will come to accept it as the new normal. Which means the only way things will change will be if the sequester cuts in individual districts or states pressure individual Republicans to peel off from the party’s absolutist anti-tax stance, a process Obama will try to push along by continuing to appeal directly to officials outside the leadership who might be more open to compromise. If not, we’re stuck in extended sequestration.
The American public accepted a lot of new normals to reelect President Obama—the lowest workforce participation in years, the highest food stamp rolls in years, and real unemployment in the teens. Reducing the federal government’s budget by a pittance over the next 10 years may be the first new normal that’s healthier than the old one.