The sequester was set up in 2011 because it was supposedly so awful that the Dems and the GOP would definitely do a budget deal rather than let it take effect.
But now that it’s here, it seems to everybody involved to be a better option than the available alternatives. The GOP would rather live with the defense cuts that were supposedly anathema to them than raise taxes even on very rich people and corporations. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is no Neville Chamberlain, and he’s saying the Pentagon cuts won’t hurt our national security. The GOP senators who are claiming they will, like John McCain and Lindsey “Butters” Graham, are really outliers even in their own party — after all, they both want to stay in Afghanistan forever, and that’s not where either party is.
The Dems would rather live with the cuts to non-defense spending than accept a deal without more revenue. The cuts won’t affect things like Medicaid or food stamps. You’re not going to see sick or hungry children sobbing in the streets.
Americans believe the sequester isn’t big enough or relevant enough to their lives to get upset about. Yes, people agree with the President that we shouldn’t do big cuts or reform entitlements without raising taxes, but people aren’t rising up against the GOP because the sequester isn’t that significant, either in dollars or affected programs. Nobody’s Social Security check gets cut, nobody’s Medicare benefits get reduced.
People just aren’t feeling the outrage the President is trying to inspire, and if he keeps it up, he might well lose his good will.
It really feels as if we have a bizarre moment of consensus here — Democrats and Republicans and Independents, in and out of government, seem pretty calm about and comfortable with the sequester, especially if it’s tweaked to give department heads flexibility on where to cut.
The GOP has been cast as having the political disadvantage here. But if these cuts take effect, and people don’t feel pain from them, voters might say, “Hey, let’s cut a little more.”