Will Americans Feel It?

03.20.13

Looks like the Republicans Have Won the Sequestration Fight For Now

So reports TPM, and I can find no basis on which to disagree. Brian Beutler:

Once the sequestration deadline came and went, President Obama settled in for a long, glacial campaign to persuade individual Republicans to support the sort of deficit reduction he’s been pursuing for two years. But even if that effort ultimately works, it for all intents and purposes is unfolding on its own, delinked from the ongoing sequestration cuts, which were supposed to be the forcing mechanism that scared Republicans straight about the need to increase taxes.

Instead, sequestration will continue for at least as long as it takes lawmakers and Obama to reach a budget agreement — if such an agreement is possible...

...Republicans, by contrast, have become emboldened. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner signaled that Republicans will not only set future appropriations at sequestration levels, but that they’d attempt to take even more money out of domestic programs and use it to increase national defense — the only category of spending they’ve attempted to shield from dramatic budget cuts.

Last night I got a call from a relative asking for my insights on the matter because they were starting to lay a few people off at her husband's workplace (a government contractor). I wasn't much help, alas.

All I can say is, Congress will do something about the sequester when Congress feels public pressure to do something about the sequester. This may happen over the summer as cuts get worse. It may never happen. It will just depend on a) how many Americans feel any sting from the cuts and b) how much political power the stung Americans have.

Until then the cuts will become the new normal. So Republicans can gloat about this one, although it's also worth remembering that as March 1 approached and they were defending the cuts, they were all saying things like "hey, it's only $85 billion out of a $3.8 trillion budget."

Still, they win this round for now, unless a general clamor does arise out there in the heartland. Probably helps them a bit in broader fiscal negotiations, but since I'm of the view that there functionally are no broader fiscal negotiations, I'm not sure it makes that much difference.