What Does “Sequester” Mean?
We’ve been hearing a lot on the news about the upcoming budget “sequester” in Washington. But aside from being a terrible word to try and spell in a spelling bee what, exactlly, does “sequester” or “sequestration” mean?
A simple definition is provided by Slate magazine.
Sequestration is broad, automatic, across-the-board cuts to most categories of government spending. These are scheduled to take effect on March 1.
OK, so it means cutting the budget, kind of like when I open our National Grid bill every month and then tell my wife she has to turn the thermostat down. But if these cuts are so drastic why aren’t more Americans concerned? The Week has seen the polls.
1.People aren’t really paying attention
“While Washington is in a tizzy about the sequester, the vast majority of Americans haven’t paid much attention,” says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. Only 27 percent of Pew respondents say they have heard “a lot” about the sequester, while a sizable majority has heard “a little” (43 percent) or “nothing at all” (29 percent).
2.Americans are ready to take some fiscal medicine
Strikingly, the more Republicans and independents said they knew about the sequester, the more willing they were to let it kick in — 54 percent of GOP respondents and half of independents. That fits with a growing argument in the conservative media and among House Republicans that the sequester isn’t really that bad, and that cutting federal spending is more important than protecting military spending — and definitely preferable to new tax revenue
3. Few people think the cuts will affect them For all the doomsday talk, the American Republic won’t end on March 1 if the sequester isn’t replaced or postponed, say Reuters’ Richard Cowan and David Lawder. “While some furlough notices will be issued to government workers, there will be few outward signs on March 1 that the cuts have been launched.” Social Security recipients will get their checks, for example, and soldiers will get paid. So unless people work for the government or do business with it, “the general public may not much notice the cuts,” at least not at first, says The Associate Press’ Andrew Taylor.
So maybe we don’t care or maybe we think the budget cutting is way overdue or maybe we don’t think it will affect us. Unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of days we’ll all find out soon enough.