Suffering from sequester burnout? You're not alone

Obama: Cuts a 'self-inflicted wound'
Obama: Cuts a 'self-inflicted wound'


    Obama: Cuts a 'self-inflicted wound'


Obama: Cuts a 'self-inflicted wound' 01:38

Story highlights

  • New polling suggests Americans are tired of one fiscal crisis after another in DC
  • Frustration over partisan gridlock, confusion over impact of cuts partly to blame
  • For those not directly impacted by spending cuts, the crisis may feel manufactured
  • Alternative proposals to sequester do not move forward in Senate

President Barack Obama and political prognosticators are once again warning that fiscal doomsday is imminent.

The cause this time: $85 billion in spending cuts through September that could hurt preschools for low income kids, weaken military readiness and worsen travel delays at airports.

But Americans appear indifferent to the "sky-is-falling" rhetoric out of Washington with no congressional deal in sight ahead of Friday's deadline to avert the mandatory austerity.

"There is a kind of familiarity with brinksmanship politics and budgeting," said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian and CNN contributor. "A large portion of the public will tune it out. There's a numbing affect."

The public in recent years has endured one fiscal or economic-related crisis after another emanating from the capital -- the excruciating debate over federal stimulus, banking and auto bailouts, repeated short-term funding extensions, threats of government shutdowns, a protracted debt-ceiling fight, and rumbles over deficits and taxes culminating with this year's fiscal cliff showdown.

By the Numbers: Automatic spending cuts

Lawmakers stilled played the blame game on Thursday as Republican and Democratic alternatives to the sequester failed to move forward in the Senate.

People have had enough.

"I have just about given up. Right now, I agree more with the pope for resigning when he has the capacity to do so under no duress. He is smarter than some up there in Washington who have no business being there. Sure, the founding fathers did not vote on term limits, but the lifespan of a person was not what is now. That is why nothing ever changes," Allison Cox wrote on CNN Politics' Facebook page.

According to a new Washington Post-Pew research Center poll, just one in four of those surveyed are paying close attention to the current fiscal crisis consuming Washington.

During the fiscal cliff saga, nearly four-in-10 Americans, or 38%, told Pew they followed passage of the related legislation very closely.

This time around, 18% of those polled said they understood the impact of the looming cuts, which cut across the entire government and take a substantial bite out of the defense budget.

CNN Explains: Sequestration

Just over 60% felt the cuts would have a major impact on the nation's economy and that the impact would be mostly negative.

But they just aren't sure of the impact, exactly.

Then there is the word sequester -- a technical mouthful that doesn't quite convey the same drama and sizzle as "fiscal cliff," Zelizer said.

The whole thing has just left many people feeling befuddled and disaffected.

"Confused and feeling insignificant," Lauralee Sessions Wagner wrote on the CNN Politics Facebook page of how she and others are feeling over the proposed cuts.

The White House has kicked into overdrive trying to underscore what it sees as the dire nature of the cuts.

It rolled out fact sheets outlining potential drawbacks for states, aviation safety, federally funded preschool programs, military readiness and border patrols.

A cavalcade of agency heads have gone before Congress and the cameras bemoaning the potential impact of cuts.

This week, the president stood before a subdued group of ship workers in Newport News, Virginia, to highlight the pain everyday Americans will feel under sequester.

Republican congressional leaders blame the White House for proposing the sequester in the first place, which came about in 2011 as a draconian consequence of doing nothing to curb deficits.

The real impact of automatic cuts and why they may happen after all

The GOP says Obama and Democrats are failing to offer serious proposals to reduce the deficit, while Obama and his supporters say Republicans in Congress refuse to compromise on the inclusion of more tax revenue as part of the solution.

Those are well-worn arguments.

Such partisan parsing and games of political chicken have become part of the new reality of how things get done in Washington, Jim Manley, a one-time top aide to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said recently.

"In light of the hyper partisanship gripping D.C. it's the new normal until things in Washington get sorted out," Manley said. "Nothing can happen until the maximum force is pressed on the process and then movement can occur."

This new reality means nose-to-nose confrontation until the other side blinks. The consequence of blinking could mean political consequences, mainly a backlash from the base.

Maybe. But there are also plenty of people who are weary of the new politics as usual.

"Another day, another government created crisis. Ho hum. The first thing to do when digging a hole too deep is to stop digging. If the simple minded can't understand, then (sic) need to suffer," Phil Todd wrote on the CNN Politics Facebook page.

It's your fault: How our 'tribes' help create gridlock in Congress

      Forced Budget Cuts

    • Marines told to 'save every round'

      United States Marines are being told to preserve ammunition and gasoline as a deal softening the impact of automatic spending cuts continues to elude leaders in Washington.
    • 4 myths about the spending cuts

      The political bickering over the automatic spending cuts has done little but cloud the public's understanding of what's going on and why. So we'll try to set the record straight on at least a few oft-repeated misconceptions.
    • sequester impact acosta pkg_00001719.jpg

      Sequestration: Big word, simple thing

      We've had enough of the Beltway's wacky terms. Using fancy-pants words to dramatize and complicate otherwise simple concepts is becoming a habit of lawmakers.
    • CNN Explains: Sequestration

      Here we go: A new round of confrontation between the White House and Congress over the federal budget is in the offing, this time in a new attempt to avert the looming "sequestration" process.
    • Where you'll feel forced spending cuts

      Most Americans will feel the impact of forced budget cuts when their lives intersect with government -- trying to get through airport security to make a flight, visiting a national park, or using federal programs or assistance.
    • WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      By the Numbers: Congress and fiscal delays

      Forced budget cuts aren't the only fiscal headache facing Congress. On March 27, the so-called continuing resolution that funds federal programs runs out and the government could shut down.
    • Airport towers get temporary reprieve

      Two days after a Federal Aviation Administration official told contractors that steps were being taken to shut down 168 air traffic control towers on April 1, the agency gave the towers an unexpected reprieve Friday, saying the official's comments were "unauthorized."
    • The US Capitol dome and it's reflection are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 29, 2012. As the fiscal cliff deadline looms, Congress and the White House have still not reached a compromise. If no deal is struck by December 31 at midnight, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

      The real impact of automatic cuts

      From military training to educational grants to border patrols to hurricane relief, federal agencies face $85 billion in automatic, government-wide spending cuts this year.
    • 57 ways forced cuts could sting

      The sequester would touch many, many government programs and services. These 57 are a somewhat random sampling of what could happen.