WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has begun a crash diet of automatic spending cuts in pursuit of better fiscal health. In the days and weeks ahead, politicians in Washington will be monitoring the effects of those cuts and the public’s reaction as federal services are reduced.
With President Obama and Congress unable to agree on alternatives to across-the-board cuts, the American people are weighing in on Washington’s unending budgetary drama.
“It is just ridiculous that Congress and the president cannot get along. Every so often we have to go through this, and it just is not fair to the peoplem," said a resident of Florida.
Not everyone is panicked.
“I do not think it is going to be as bad as all the drama purports," said a resident of New York.
Absent sustained and vociferous public outcry, President Barack Obama’s call for a bipartisan budget deal may fall on deaf ears.
“These cuts are not smart. They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs. And Congress can turn them off at any time - as soon as both sides are willing to compromise," he said.
The president wants a mix of targeted spending cuts and higher revenues to replace the so-called sequester. Republicans reject new tax hikes.
House Speaker John Boehner said, “This discussion on revenue, in my view, is over. It is about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.”
Chronic political gridlock has left the American public dismayed and fatigued, according to analyst Sarah Binder.
“I think the public generally looks at this and says, ‘A pox on both your houses’ - right? People disagree about what the solution is. I think everybody recognizes that is probably not the best way to govern," she said.
The coming week could also see Senate action on President Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan. Additionally, Congress continues to examine possible firearms restrictions in the wake of mass-shootings that shocked the nation.