Its the blunt, indiscriminate nature of sequestration that policymakers dislike. But at least among Republicans, theres appetite for belt-tightening.
This years cuts are less than 1 percent of the $8.7 trillion in new debt that will be racked up over the next decade, said Alison Fraser, with the conservative Heritage Foundation. So absolutely, sequester level cuts are necessary.
What if it happens?
Across-the-board cuts in discretionary domestic spending sounds pretty nebulous. But think about these federal programs and agencies: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, border security, airport security, Head Start and FEMAs disaster relief budget. Now think about them (and others) having billions less to perform their functions, and the picture becomes a little clearer.
Sharon Parrott, a vice president at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the cuts will remind the public of some of the really basic things that government does. One example: meat inspectors, who could be furloughed.
Most people dont think about their role as they stroll through the grocery aisles, she said.
But she emphasized that some people could feel the impacts directly. Head Start, which awards grants to states for school readiness, would see cuts. Health programs that provide immunizations and cancer screenings are also vulnerable.
Keep in mind that many government services were exempted from the sequester. Tax returns will still go out. Seniors wont lose Medicare benefits. Veterans benefits wont be affected.
For Americans worried about a cataclysm?
Its not going to be hellfire and brimstone, Ellis said.