The Washington Post

What is the sequester? (video)

Sequester. Sequestration.

You hear the word constantly around Washington — but maybe you don’t quite understand what it means.

You’re not alone. In an effort to help define the word’s significance to national politics and the federal budget, watch our video above, which attempts to explain the term in under two minutes.

Our focus on sequestration comes as House Republicans this week are trying to paint President Obama as responsible for the roughly $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that are set to begin in January.

The Republican focus on the adverse affects of sequestration includes a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday with the heads of major defense contractors, who are expected to explain how they plan to weather the cuts.

Later Wednesday, the House plans to begin debating a bill that would require the White House to detail how it would implement the first round of cuts set to take effect in January.

Republicans hope that focusing on the effects of the budget cuts will hurt Obama’s electoral chances in states with a major military presence, especially Virginia — a must-win state for Obama and his presumed Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney.

The issue may be a potent political weapon, given Americans’ lack of appetite for defense cuts and overwhelmingly positive views of the military. Only four in 10 Americans supported “major cuts” to military spending in a November 2011 CNN/ORC poll, and three-quarters of the public professed confidence in the military in a Gallup poll last month, the highest for any institution tested.

But Americans also are more willing to scale back defense spending than entitlement programs. When forced to choose which of three areas to cut, 52 percent of Americans in a February CBS News/New York Times poll backed cutting military spending, while just 15 percent picked Medicare and 13 percent chose Social Security.

Watch the video above and share your thoughts in the comments section below — and please also share suggestions on what other terms or topics we should try to explain in a video.

Polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this report.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Read more at PostPolitics

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.


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