Sequester, sequestration, sequester, sequestration. That’s all anyone can talk about. Every media outlet is following the moment-by-moment developments. (There have been none. That’s why it might go into effect on Friday.) Literally an hour ago, USA Today published the latest story about President Obama’s visit to a Virginia factory where he once again reiterated that jobs were “in jeopardy” if Republicans don’t come up with an alternative to the massive spending cuts that are set to go happen on Friday. Republicans criticized the President’s trip. Apparently, both sides aren’t talking to one another.
Even as the sequester looms, and despite the fears of all the troubles it will bring, people are already tired of talking about it. A new survey from the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post shows that one in four people aren’t following the issue closely.
Part of the problem could be that people don’t fully understand the issue, which is circular: People don’t understand the issue, so they don’t understand the impact, so they don’t keep up with the story, so they don’t understand the issue. According to CBS’ coverage of the Pew survey, only “30 percent say the impact on their personal finances would be ‘major,’ while 40 percent say the looming cuts would impact their finances in a minor way.”
Another problem could be that we’re so used to having our government in a constant state of crisis, we have no more panic left in us. We just finished with the debt ceiling issue and we just had a presidential election where both sides presented worst-case scenarios if the other was elected. We’re still here, still working hard, so what’s the sense in getting ourselves into a lather, right?
The fact is there could be lots of repercussions. Cabinet members including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warn that they would have to change the way they work to keep the country moving. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has warned that air travel would be negatively impacted. Obama made an appearance with first responders a week ago to warn that layoffs are coming if something isn’t done. Various industries, the military, and countless other areas say the consequences would be dire.
Last Thursday, the President met with African American leaders to speak in more detail about his “Plan for a Strong Middle Class & a Strong America.” Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, and Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation were among those in attendance.
“On unemployment, which is also disproportionately impacting our communities, we must deal with job creation and job programs, educational inequality, the problems of unfairness in the criminal justice system, and the problem of gun violence,” Rev. Sharpton said in a statement. According to NewsOne, some of the other topics that came up were education and job training. Should the sequester become a reality, more jobs would be lost. Something the black community — and the country — can’t afford.
Part of the reason why we should care about the sequester is that as long as it’s an issue, other issues can’t get our full attention. Voting rights, immigration, and other problems the country faces are not getting the attention they need because the stalemate continues between the Republicans, the Democrats, and the White House. House Speaker John Boehner today scolded the Senate for not doing something, after the House of Representatives passed two proposals to avoid the sequester. According to the Los Angeles Times, many people blame Republicans for the problem, and some Republicans would actually like to see the cuts go into effect as a way to reduce the deficit.
The government is doing us a great disservice right now. If the sequester happens (which looks likely) and people do start feeling the pain of these across-the-board cuts, that indifference will turn to anger.