The sequester, the name given to the $85 billion in defense and domestic spending cuts set to take effect automatically for the remainder of 2013, is just hours away, but nearly half of America doesn’t know what it is.
A YouGov Omnibus survey conducted between February 26 and 28 found that 43 percent of Americans are clueless about the sequestration that goes into effect later today when President Barack Obama gives the order.
When respondents in the survey were asked what they thought sequestration meant, 51 percent correctly said it was “a group of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts.” Some 16 percent of Americans surveyed believe sequestration “requires Congress to come to an agreement over negotiated budget cuts,” but 21percent said they were unsure.
The current sequester was passed into law under the Budget Control Act in August 2011. It was never intended to be implemented, rather a worst case scenario to force lawmakers to the negotiation table. At least $1.2 trillion in cuts will happen over the next 10 years because of sequestration.
The sequester was delayed in January until today, as part of a last-minute "fiscal cliff" deal that provided lawmakers more time to come up with a plan. However, there was no productive discussion between the two sides all these months. The first movement toward a solution happened this morning, when Obama met with top congressional leaders. However, that sequester talk ended in a stalemate with the president blaming congressional Republicans failing to cut a deal.
Other polls have indicated that America would prefer that lawmakers avoid sequestration.
A recent Gallup poll showed that 45 percent of Americans would rather avoid a sequester, while 37 percent believe these budget cuts should occur as planned.
But when these cuts do take effect, more Americans said they would blame the Republicans in Congress instead of Obama, 45 to 32 percent, according to a Washington Post-Pew poll.
Democrats are insisting on a tax increase as part of the solution to end the indiscriminate budget cuts that would slash 13 percent from defense spending and 9 percent from domestic programs.
The nation’s chief executive on Friday said he is “prepared to do the hard things” but will not ask the middle class to bear the burden.
If lawmakers let the nation ride out this year’s cuts through September, the Obama administration has warned that there could be impacts on air travel and security. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that 750,000 jobs could be lost this year. And the International Monetary Fund warned that U.S. economic growth could be slowed by 0.5 percentage points this year and in turn affect the global economy.
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