t's been five months now since the sequester — the $85 billion in automatic cuts triggered when lawmakers failed to compromise on a budget deal — went into effect.
Yet even with all that time to watch the sequester in action, Americans still know pretty much nothing about it, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.
In the poll, 54 percent of Americans said they didn't know enough about the sequester to say whether it had been a good or bad thing for the country. Thirty percent said it has had negative impact, while 15 percent said it been good for the country.
That's almost unchanged from March, when the sequester first went into effect. The sequester was designed to be so devastating that it would pressure both Democrats and Republicans to cave and strike a deal to replace the mandatory cuts with savings from elsewhere in the budget.
Yet Congress has since stepped in only to restore funding for the Federal Aviation Administration once airport delays began to pile up. Meanwhile, programs directed at some of the nation's most vulnerable, like Head Start and Medicare, have had to get by on fewer funds.
Congress has been hung up with debates over gun control and immigration reform this year, but the nation's general indifference to the sequester offered another possible explanation for why lawmakers have been in no rush to restore the $85 billion in cuts.
Six in ten respondents said they didn't even know if the sequester had impacted their own lives, while 27 percent said it had harmed them personally and 11 percent said it had actually helped them. As with the previous question, public opinion has remained virtually unchanged here.
The predicted groundswell of outrage — and the political pressure it was supposed to create — hasn't materialized at all, bolstering claims that President Obama and Democrats hyped up the sequester's impact. However, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the cuts represent the biggest threat to the American economy, and the Commerce Department today reported that GDP grew at a tepid annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter (though that did beat forecasters' estimates).
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How to make homemade marshmallow Peeps
Subscribe to the Week