In fact, with the exception of foreign aid and sometimes NASA, most polls typically show significant and often overwhelming support for at least maintaining the current level of every area of federal activity. There’s also often a great deal of support for Washington, D.C., spending more on specific programs and for certain purposes. This is regardless of whether those being polled are a representative cross-section of voters or those who identify themselves as fiscal conservatives.
The change now is that, in addition to them being more likely to occur than most other spending cuts that have been mentioned in recent years, the reductions that will go into effect because of the sequester are beginning to be seen by diverse groups that don’t always work together as being in their joint interest to oppose.
While defense contractors and their trade associations have been leading the charge against the Pentagon sequester, unions in those industries are also working to stop the spending reductions from happening. In addition, investors with an interest in companies that work with the Pentagon have been expressing their own concerns about the impact of those cuts on the economy, not to mention on the price of their stock.
Add to that the growing worry on Wall Street that the cuts are too big and will occur at the wrong time and polling results that show less support for specific reductions than is assumed, and you get the start of the new federal budget reality that spending cuts aren’t really all that popular.
This is going to put federal spending cut proponents on the defensive in the months ahead as it becomes increasingly obvious that their position is not aligned with a majority of the country. It will be a humbling experience for many of those who have been so sure of themselves on this issue that they insisted on a spending-cut-only sequester that caused the change.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”