I know it's early days, but if this (from the front page of today's New York Times) is indicative of how the impact of the sequester is going to be covered, we're going to wait in vain for press coverage to turn public opinion against the cuts:
Virginia's Feast on U.S. Funds Nears an EndYes, it's just one story. Yes, many of the interviewees come off as sympathetic -- as people whose lives are going to experience a serious disruption from this.
To listen to the human side of sequestration, wait in line here for the 595 bus to Reston, Va., a journey across a suburbia grown fat and happy on a federal spending boom in the past decade, primarily military.
While the rest of the country experienced a corrosive recession, unemployment in Arlington County, home of the Pentagon, never rose above 5 percent. Nearby Fairfax County, with a cyberintelligence industry that took off after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, gorged on government contracts to private companies.
"It was easy, and people got comfortable," said Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University, an expert on the regional economy. "They haven't come to terms with the fact it isn't going to be as easy."
... Americans far from Washington who say government spending is reckless and unsustainable may not shed a tear for its suburban counties, 6 of which are among the 10 richest in the country, according to the census. But that prosperity has largely rained down on government contractors....
But you can see how easy it will be for a lot of people to look at this through the lens of "just world" thinking: Well, they've had it soft while the rest of us have struggled. Well, if they force you to take a one-day-a-week furlough, what's so hard about getting a part-time job? And on and on.
President Obama and most liberals have been assuming that reports of ordinary Americans' pain will turn the tide of public opinion against pro-sequester Republicans. But when in the past four years has media coverage of the downturn focused on the pain of unemployment and underemployment? If anything, the people who've suffered in the downturn have been swept under the rug, while the Beltway obsesses over the debt. Why should we expect that to change now?
So I think the sequester cuts are just going to remain in place. I think they're going to be the new baseline, the new normal. In fact, after reading another front-page Times story, I wonder if eventually there'll be boasting about the sequester:
... lost in the talk of Washington's dysfunction is this fact: on paper at least, President Obama and Congress have reduced projected deficits by nearly $4 trillion over a decade --— the widely embraced goal for stabilizing the national debt.Again, this story talks about pain -- but given the fact that the Beltway has never really cared about the pain people have experienced during the downturn, and given the fact that the Beltway has been obsessed with debt, why shouldn't we expect Republicans, at least, to go into the 2014 midterms crowing about the fact that they forced this to happen?
... If the latest cuts stick, the two parties will have achieved nearly the full amount of deficit reduction over the next decade that economists and market analysts have promoted....