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Posts Tagged ‘fiscal cliff’

The sequester? Never heard of it.

The sequester? Never heard of it.

The Washington Post says our attitude about the Sequester is like the movie, “Clueless.” 

(AP) Just one in four Americans are following very closely the debate over the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts set to kick in on Friday, according to a new Washington Post-Pew poll, numbers that serve as a reminder that although talk of the sequester is dominating the nation’s capital, it has yet to permeate the public at large.

Most Americans are clueless about the sequester.

Not only are most people paying very little attention to the sequester, they also have only the faintest sense of what it would do. Less than one in five (18 percent) in the Post-Pew poll say they understand “very well” what would happen if the sequester went into effect.

Those remarkably low numbers come despite the fact that the debate over the sequester has dominated Washington for much of the last month and, in the past week or so, President Obama has cranked up the direness of his warnings about what it could do to the economy.

The lack of interest and knowledge about the sequester stands in contrast to the level of engagement the public showed in the last crisis — the fiscal cliff. In Pew polling done in the run-up to the cliff, 40 percent of people said they were following the negotiations “very” closely, while roughly three in 10 said they had a very strong understanding of what it would mean for themselves and the country if we went off the cliff.

What explains the difference between sequester and the cliff? At first glance, it appears to be the fact that, without tax increases included in the sequester, most people don’t think it will really affect them. Just 30 percent of those tested say sequestration would have a “major effect” on their own financial situation — a contrast to 43 percent who said the same about the fiscal cliff. The lack of a tax increase component in sequestration (Democrats do want some increases in revenue, but mostly through closing loopholes) is seen most clearly among Republicans — with just one in five following news about the automatic cuts “very closely.” Twice as many Republicans followed the fiscal cliff battle in December very closely.

(While it is impossible to document via polling, we believe strongly that people have less of a sense for sequestration than they did for the fiscal cliff because it lacks a catchy name. Never underestimate the shallowness of the American public’s news consumption habits.)

The sea of numbers above should serve as a reminder that, for most Americans, the sequester doesn’t exist. All of the talk about it coming out of Washington about whom to blame is lost on these people — another fight in the nation’s capital that they don’t believe will have any actual impact in their lives.

(For what it’s worth, the poll shows that 45 percent say Republicans in Congress should be blamed for the sequester, while 32 percent blame President Obama. That’s a far less sizable edge than the 26-point blame-game advantage that Obama enjoyed over congressional GOPers on the fiscal cliff.)

Whether the lack of interest and knowledge regarding the sequester will change once it actually hits later this week remains to be seen, although these numbers suggest it’s got a long way to go to even be a relevant issue for most people in the country. A very long way.


The Mom Vivant/ Debbie Baldwin of Ladue News

Every year, a small college in northern Michigan compiles a list of words and phrases to eliminate from everyday vocabulary due to misuse, overuse and/or annoyance. In years past, words as amundane as “amazing” or as trendy as “LOL” made the list. Personally, I am of the opinion that any spoken text abbreviation should be banned. Do people realize that actually saying, ‘by the way’ is shorter syllabically than ‘BTW’?

At the top of the list this year – not surprisingly – is ‘fiscal cliff.’ I’m not too worried about phasing that one out. I mean, once we go over it, we’ll need a new expression, anyway. ‘Fiscal chasm’? ‘Fiscal gorge’? I don’t see this expression going away anytime soon. I can’t imagine a politician frank enough to say, “We’re going to ignore this problem for a few weeks and hope it disappears.” 

Next is ‘double down’, which has lost all meaning. In black jack, doubling down is doubling a bet on a potentially winning hand in hopes of doubling the payout. In politics and media, the expression seems to mean repeat: double down on a bailout. At a bar, it means get another round: double down on the margaritas. The list also includes the phrase ‘job creators.’ Since they don’t seem to exist, that expression could just fade away on its own. 

I thought ‘passion’ was a strange choice for the list, but after thinking about it, it occurs to me that passion has replaced every other requirement for being good at something. He has a passion for race car driving, she has a passion for designing clothes. Good for you. I have a passion for going into outer space, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be captaining the shuttle anytime soon.

If there are no teens in your life, you’ve probably never heard the expression, ‘YOLO.’ It’s a text abbreviation and acronym for, ‘you only live once.’ Teenagers use it in a manipulative attempt to get their way or justify some act of stupidity. It’s about as valuable to the English language as ‘what-not.’ The phrase ‘spoiler alert’ is next. In the context of movie reviews, ‘spoiler alert’ is a necessary evil. It notifies the reader that the writer is going to give something away about the plot. However, walking into a room and shouting, Spoiler Alert! The Yankees just traded A-Rod, tends to render the expression moot. Really, “breaking news” seems more suitable. 

“Bucket list’ – it was a great movie, but enough is enough. People are bucket-listing everything. I have a bucket list of work accomplishments, as well as flavors to try at Baskin-Robbins. It was a good phrase and we killed it. ‘Trending’ is apparently trending. Anyone who questions whether this term has become hideously overused need only watch fifteen minutes of E! 

Next on the list was ‘superfood.’ Yeah, good luck trying to pry that one out of the hands of the kale industry. Another food-related term: boneless wings. Trust me, that phrase is going nowhere. If they called them what they really were, nobody would order them. They final word on the list is guru, which replaced tsar (and soon enough, some other over-inflated and self-important title will replace guru) Maybe at some point, actual job titles will make a comeback. 

Well, that was the list for 2012. A new crop of words will emerge late this year, probably related to the economy or politics or movies, it just depends on what’s trending.