If beltway news reflected events in the country at large, the worst consequences of sequestration would amount to griping over politically motivated spending cuts, or programs spared.
That kind of coverage stems from a GOP effort to identify unpopular and cynical sequestration cuts and lay them at the feet of the Obama administration lest the public regard them as a direct consequence of sequestration itself.
But outside of Washington DC, sequestration is already causing real problems for regular people, and Democrats are engaged in a counteroffensive — highlighting the day-in, day-out problems sequestration is causing outside of the capital.
Last week, Democratic sources provided TPM with dozens of print and television news stories documenting the impact of sequestration in the states. Below are a representative example.
From the Cronkite News: “An Arizona school superintendent said Monday that her district has already cut 40 positions because of automatic federal spending reductions and will recommend cutting 65 more and closing three schools next year to save money.”
In South Bend, Ind.,, “A $30 million dollar construction project … is delayed because of the sequester budget cuts.”
The Charlotte Observer notes, “Closing the control tower at Concord Regional Airport could cost the city hundreds of charter flights from NASCAR teams and other businesses, local officials said Wednesday after learning that the tower’s federal funding is being eliminated. … Concord officials said they were notified Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration that funding would be cut off soon.”
The Dayton Daily News learned: “Furloughed Air Force civilian workers would cost Ohio’s economy $111.1 million in lost wages through September.”
In Las Vegas, “More than 220 local FAA workers received notices that they will have to take some unpaid days off.”
And on Fort Drum in Waterstown, NY, “civilian employees on post will be forced to take one day off per week without pay.”
It’s not surprising that the news coverage of sequestration in Washington has been tinctured by partisan skirmishes over unpopular or politically motivated cuts. But outside the capital the public isn’t experiencing sequestration solely as a political issue — and the consequences of indiscriminate cuts may eventually force lawmakers to address the policy rather than distract the public from the real harm it’s causing.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.