Public sides with Obama in sequester debate

As the latest drama in Washington heats up, more Americans are throwing their support behind the president. Republicans, however, seem unmoved by the polls.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 21, 2013 6:02PM
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference from the White House /Larry Downing/Reuters President Obama's job approval rating stands at a three-year high while Republicans' popularity stands at a record low, which may complicate efforts to head off $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, also known as the "sequester," from starting March 1.

The thumbs-up for Obama, who recently began his second term, comes courtesy of a Bloomberg National poll Wednesday showing his job approval rating at 55%, the highest level since September 2009. That same survey showed support for Republicans at 35%, the lowest since the poll began in September 2009. A poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center and USA Today drew similar conclusions.

Democrats and Republicans say they want to avoid the sequester partly because of the massive disruptions it will cause in the lives of many Americans. At the Defense Department alone, about 700,000 employees could be furloughed along with a slew of other government workers ranging from FBI agents to rangers at national parks. Government contractors may also be affected.

Compromise in hyper-partisan Washington, though, remains as elusive as it was during the recent showdown over the fiscal cliff. Worries about the sequester are dragging down the stock market, which this week posted its worst two-day drop of the year.

Economists such as Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight argue that the sequester would harm the economy. He estimates that it would shave 0.5% from projected U.S. economic growth this year, which, though not catastrophic, couldn't be made up through other means such as by action of the Federal Reserve.

"We don't need to be implementing more austerity now," he said in an interview, adding that there are more effective ways to cut federal spending.

Some House Republicans are balking at the Obama administration's plan to avoid this calamity through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts because, as The New York Times notes, a direct conflict with Obama "is a badge of honor" for many representing conservative districts.

Like many issues in Washington, the sequester may get resolved at the last possible moment.  Worse still, politicians may punt on making a tough decision, kicking the can down the road to another day.

--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

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Feb 21, 2013 6:12PM
Yeah, but this is the same dumb group that re-elected him.
Feb 21, 2013 7:19PM

So what? Generally speaking americans dont even know which coast Washington D C is on. Seeking popular consensus is largely a media sales job equal to anything Goebbels could have cooked up for Nazi causes. As far as the sequester is concerned-NO COMPROMISE. Compromise is how we got into this fiscal mess. As painful as it may be, I believe the only way for the american  people to wake up is for spending cuts, loss of government jobs, reductions in giveaways, all to be dramatically reduced, even at risk of recession.

If public opinion were a valid consideration for legisation, we wouldnt have Omama care or $5 gasoline.

Feb 21, 2013 6:14PM
Tax and spend, tax and spend- that all dumbocrats know how to do!!!!!!!!!!
Feb 21, 2013 7:00PM

I think the reason the public sides with Obama, is because the public doesn't understand all of the facts.  The Obama scare tactics are working.  Remember when Bush scared America into attacking Iraq?  Same thing here, the Obama machine is working overtime to scare America into submission.  People don't learn, an emergency every week in the Obama White House, and the sheeple just follow along.  Too bad.

Feb 21, 2013 9:46PM
Where the hell do they find these people they are polling? I know people all over the United States and I don't know one who supports Obama. But then again, I am mostly in contact with educated people.
Feb 21, 2013 7:24PM
The 2% reduction in spending with sequester, and still project a defecit for the year tells you there are NO real cuts in spending. It would be the same as me projecting I will spend $100,000 next year knowing I only make $50,000, so I revise it to $80,000 and declare it is a savings. Obama math.
Feb 21, 2013 8:24PM
I am part of the "public" and there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that I agree with Oblame-ah's lies.
Feb 21, 2013 10:58PM

"I will veto any attempt to stop the sequester" - Barack Obama - campaigning in late 2011


Today? "Its the republicans fault".


Don't believe me - just Google it

Feb 21, 2013 10:04PM
Of course.  Most people find it in bad taste to acknowledge that POTUS is a shameless liar.
Feb 21, 2013 11:13PM
Ummm...wasn't the sequester Obama's and the democrats solution if they could not provide tax cuts???
Feb 21, 2013 7:26PM
No one would patronize a business with a 55% approval rating.
Feb 21, 2013 11:38PM
What a bunch of garbage. Pres.Obama proposed sequestration it to begin with, now he wants to slip the willie to the American public. No wonder this guy got re-elected. The American public is becoming dumber by the day. We are in big, big trouble as a country and this nightmare of a administration is no help to anyone. 1.8 %-2% growth are you kidding me, oh sure large boats take a while to turn around, believe that and I've got an island full of gold to sell you.
55%, hmmmm, that's the same percentage receiving welfare checks..
Feb 22, 2013 12:12AM

An uninformed citizen is an ignorant citizen.  The sequester will cut 2% from budgets.  If you work you just lost 2% of your pay as of January 1, 2013 from the payroll hike.  You did not have a choose.  Both parties are at fault but President Obama has yet to have a budget and it is required by law - but he only cares about the Obama law - HIS  WISE UP AMERICA!!!!

Feb 22, 2013 8:50AM
We know the public are stupid. They voted for Obama.
Feb 21, 2013 11:17PM
What was that old saying? "The inmates are in charge of the asylum!"
Feb 21, 2013 11:06PM

In the Sequester what Obama is saying and what the party is doing are 2 differnt things.... Everyone wants a balanced budget..... However... no one is coming up with ways to balance it... Thats where the problem lies!

Feb 21, 2013 10:35PM
Who gets to give an opinion in the polls? If America wants to spend itself to the death,then that's where we are headed! America,you have spoken,and I hope you enjoy the ride to the bottom,it should be a fast one! I hope your rubber Government checks help you bounce.
Feb 22, 2013 8:49AM
The man was elected overwhelmingly just 3 months ago - it shouldn't be a surprise that the public is on his side.  The real conundrum will be near the end of 2016, when the vast majority of the American people reflect on the previous 8 years and collectively ask themselves "WTF were we thinking?".
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