For all the obsessing and chortling over White House tours, it really is true — as others have pointed out — that the sequester cuts are beginning to take hold around the country. There are examples like this one from Sam Stein, in which a Head Start program in Arkansas is closing its doors 13 days in advance, as well as many other examples culled from newscasts around the country earlier this week.
It remains unpredictable how the politics of this will play out — it certainly holds real political peril for Obama, but it still remains possible that it could ultimately force Republicans back to the table to deal. It’s premature to rule out that outcome entirely. Just look at these headlines, which were sent over by a Democrat who is trying to demonstrate that this really could snowball over time:
* Detroit Free Press (Michigan): “State warns workers of potential layoffs as massive federal cuts trickle down”
* Daily Tribune: “Army workers protest pay cuts”
* The Oneida Daily Dispatch (New York): “Sequestration budget cuts hit local area hard”
* Dayton Daily News (Ohio): “Furlough notices to go out Friday”
* Columbus Dispatch: “Sequester hits small airports”
* Sioux City Journal (Iowa): “Iowa inspector says furloughs could lead to bootleg meat”
* The Hawk Eye: “Head Start among groups expecting sequestration cuts”
* The Des Moines Register: “Federal budget cuts creep into Iowa”
* The Shreveport Times (Louisiana): “Budget cuts mean fewer state troopers”
* San Diego Union Tribune (California): “Federal workers rally against furloughs”
* Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico): “Kirkland furlough notices going out”
* Santa Fe New Mexican: “Sequestration cuts force Bandelier to furlough staff”
One wonders if this really could end up getting people to rethink the relationship between government spending and economic well being and recovery.
Despite all this, the focus in Washington remains on the White House tours. Yesterday the Senate actually held a vote on GOP Senator Tom Coburn’s measure to restore funding for them. It seems possible that the GOP strategy of attacking the White House for cancelling tours and egg rolls (which turned out to be bogus) will begin to look out of touch if the damage gets worse. I continue to think this is shaping up as a long game.