The sequester in a word? “Bad.” Also, “good.”

March 4, 2013

What do people think of the sequester?  That it's a bad thing with negative consequences. Except the people who think it's good.

Gallup asked people what one word came to mind when thinking about the across-the-board automatic cuts that went into effect on Friday.

Here are the results in a word cloud:

The most commonly mentioned word was "bad" with five percent of respondents choosing it. But, "bad" -- as it so often is in life -- was followed by "good" at 4 percent.  Our favorite response? "God help us", clocking in at three percent. (Worth noting: That's three words, not one.)

Overall, negative words for the sequester outnumbered positive ones at a four to one clip. (Twenty-four percent offered a "neutral" word as judged by Gallup.) But, the fact that the two most-mentioned words were the exact opposites of one another tells you all you need to know about the deep divisions in the country (and the Congress) over the next, right steps to get our spending and debt issues under control.

For every person who views the sequester as a self-inflicted wound (in President Obama's words) for an economy that needs all the help it can get, there is someone who regards it as a difficult but necessary step toward fiscal austerity.

And then there is the fact that more than one in five respondents to the Gallup poll, which was taken in the days just before the sequester kicked in, either responded with nothing (five percent) or didn't know enough to offer a single-word take (17 percent). That level of apathy/ignorance suggests that the sequester is still something that isn't (and won't?) moving the needle, a lack of urgency that will put zero pressure on elected officials to act to avert its more damaging aspects.

Of course, depending on how you view the sequester, that may well be a very good thing indeed.

Obama taps new budget director: Obama plans to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the next White House budget director today. Burwell, now the head of the Wal-Mart Foundation, formerly worked on Bill Clinton's economic team. The selection of a woman to fill a top administration post comes after recent criticism the president has faced for mostly selecting men for high-level positions.

Fixbits:

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are threatening to delay John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director until they receive additional documents about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Mitt Romney said he didn't lose the election because of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or Hurricane Sandy.

Gene Sperling said Republicans proposed the sequester, as we know it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted a liberal group for criticizing his wife's Asian heritage.

The gambling corporation controlled by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson told the SEC it likely violated an antibribery law.

Karl Rove encouraged California Republicans to "get back in the game and fight."

Dennis Rodman called North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun his "friend."

Must-reads:

"Deal to avert government shutdown likely, officials say" -- Kimberly Kindy and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

"Stymied by a GOP House, Obama looks ahead to 2014 to cement his legacy" -- Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker, Washington Post

"G.O.P. Clings to One Thing It Agrees On: Spending Cuts" -- Richard W. Stevenson, New York Times

"Obama's Lost Leverage" -- Steven T. Dennis and Daniel Newhauser, Roll Call

"Democrats struggle to find next tax triumph" -- Steven Sloan, Politico

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Aaron Blake | March 3, 2013