In Washington, Republicans and Democrats have been at loggerheads over how best to avert sequestration. In the rest of the country, a remarkably high percentage of Americans take a different view: Bring it on.
Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they would tell their member of Congress to let the deep federal spending cuts known as sequestration go into effect as scheduled, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, while nearly one in five had no opinion. A plurality (45 percent) said they would like to see Congress pass a measure to avert the cuts, but that’s hardly a decisive figure that reflects the alarm bells the Obama administration has been sounding the last couple of weeks.
The public was similarly divided in a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll released last week. Four in 10 Americans said President Obama and Congress should let the cuts go into effect if they cannot reach a deal to avoid them by March 1. Forty-nine percent said the cuts should be delayed.
What gives? For starters, many Americans simply haven’t tuned into the debate over the deep cuts set to hit the federal government on Friday. In the Gallup poll, 38 percent said they were not following the story too closely or at all closely. An even higher percentage of Americans — 48 percent — said the same thing in a Washington Post-Pew poll released earlier this week. It’s hard to strongly oppose cuts you don’t really know that much about.
In an effort to ratchet up pressure on congressional Republicans to agree to Democratic calls for a mixture of new tax revenue and alternate spending cuts as a means of avoiding the sequester, the Obama administration has launched a full-scale effort to warn the public of the dire consequences of inaction. The more Americans know about sequestration, the thinking goes, the greater pressure they will exert on their representative to act to avert it.
The Gallup poll backs this notion up. Among those following the issue very or somewhat closely, 50 percent want to see it averted. Among those following it less closely, that number drops to 39 percent. (Of course, this could be a self-selecting sample; if you think the cuts are going to be bad, you are more likely to pay close attention.)
The reality is that, with just a day left until the cuts begin kicking in, that message that the sequester is a true emergency simply hasn’t sunk in for most Americans. Further complicating the administration’s pitch is that fact that the cuts affect different communities in strikingly different ways. What is dire in some places is a non-issue in others.
It may seem like a head-scratcher that Congress and the White House are mere hours away from letting the cuts — which were designed to be so undesirable that they virtually guaranteed an alternate agreement — from happening. But the reality is that public pressure simply hasn’t reached the point that inaction is not an option. If it had, it’s possible that things would be different right now.
DCCC launches sequester calls: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching robocalls against 23 House Republicans on Thursday, hoping to exploit growing voter anger over the lack of action in Washington to avert the sequester.
A voice on the call claims that the targeted GOP lawmaker “backed a sequester plan that will eliminate more than 2 million jobs, slow our economy and may drive us back into a recession. … He won’t compromise on a solution for the middle class because he is protecting tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected. These cuts will be devastating and could set us back for a generation.”
The call will target 23 potentially vulnerable Republicans, including Reps. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Tim Griffin (Ark.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Tom Latham (Iowa), Steve Southerland (Fla.) and Daniel Webster (Fla.).
Clinton to hold another event for McAuliffe: Former President Bill Clinton will hold another fundraising event for close ally and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) next month.
The New York Daily News previously reported that Clinton would raise money for McAuliffe on March 13 in New York City. According to an invitation obtained by The Fix, he will also raise money for the former DNC chairman in New Orleans a week earlier, on March 6.
The New Orleans fundraiser will be held at the home of top Democratic strategist James Carville and will also feature businessman Jim Bernhard, the CEO of the Shaw Group. Tickets for the lunch are available for $5,000.
McAuliffe faces state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in this year’s race.
Jack Lew was confirmed as treasury secretary late Wednesday, with the Senate voting 71-26 in his favor.
Ashley Judd is making phone calls about her potential Kentucky Senate bid.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is curbing the use of taxpayer funding for foreign trips by lawmakers – a major perk of being in Congress.
Caroline Kennedy is a leading candidate to become ambassador to Japan, according to Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols.
Bob Woodward details his recent clash with the White House.
Ex-senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) will hold a fundraiser for New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R). And Mitt Romney maxes out to Christie.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is reportedly writing a memoir.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) gets a tea party challenger.
“Teacher pink slips claim by Duncan not backed by evidence” — Lyndsey Layton and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post
“Under Obama, More Appointments Go Unfilled” — Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica
Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.