How Will The Sequester Play Out?

Alex Altman previews the cuts, which are scheduled to begin at the end of this week:

We know the sequester would wreak serious damage if allowed to run its course. But its immediate impact could be mild, and almost nobody in Washington knows how it will be managed before Congress musters the will to replace it. That includes the heads of federal agencies, who are warning of closed national parks, 90-minute flight delays and unemployment checks trimmed some 10%. The number of people in the federal government with intimate knowledge of what will happen if the sequester takes effect on March 1 is likely tiny — perhaps as small as three, says Barry Anderson, a former senior official at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Anderson knows how complicated the process is to predict because he helped direct the last sequester, in 1991. “I’ve been in therapy for the past 22 years,” he jokes.

Last week, Sprung wondered about the politics of the spending cuts:

In trying to pin the sequester on Obama, Republicans never really say exactly what they’re blaming him for. Is it for actually wanting the savage cuts — a suggestion that doesn’t pass the laugh test? Or for being weak or foolish enough to let them inflict it on him and on the country? That must be it — notwithstanding it doesn’t reflect very well on them.  They’re the ones insisting that the meat ax is better than a) simply calling the thing off, since no one intended to enact it, or b) replacing it with a mix of more targeted cuts and modest tax hikes.

Bernstein adds:

[W]hen voters start complaining about specific cuts, Obama can offer to replace them with specific tax increases voters favor. But all Republicans have to offer to replace specific unpopular sequester cuts is … other specific unpopular cuts. This is not a playing field that sets up well for Republicans.