(CBS NEWS) -- With dramatic, across-the-board "sequestration" cuts slated to take
effect Friday, most Americans believe the consequences of those
reductions will have a "major effect" on the state of the U.S. economy,
according to a new poll
by Pew Research Center/Washington Post.
But even as Americans
overwhelming express negativity over how those cuts would impact the
nation's economy, the same survey indicates a sense of public fatigue
over this latest in a series of dramatic fiscal debates coming out of
Washington: Only 1 in 4 Americans say they're following the story
According to the poll, which surveyed 1,000 people
between Feb. 21-24, 62 percent of the public believes the sequester's
effect on the economy would be mostly negative, while 18 percent thought
it would be mostly positive. Twenty-one percent said it would have no
impact or that they didn't know. Six in 10 Americans, meanwhile, think
the impact of the cuts on the economy would be "major"; 55 percent say
the same of sequestration's impact on the military, and 45 percent say
so of the budget deficit.
Fewer - 30 percent - say the impact on
their personal finances would be "major," while 40 percent say the
looming cuts would impact their finances in a minor way.
Perhaps that's part of the reason fewer people say they're
paying close attention to this debate, as opposed to similar previous
controversies, such as last year's "fiscal cliff" drama. In December, 40
percent of the public said they were following news of the fiscal cliff
closely, and 28 percent expressed a strong sense of comprehension
regarding what would happen if the nation went over the so-called cliff.
though Americans have a similar sense of sequestration's impact on the
economy - 60 percent say it would have a major effect on the U.S.
economy, compared to 64 percent of those who said the same about the
fiscal cliff - only 25 percent say they're paying close attention to
news surrounding the debate.
Eighteen percent of the public says they
understand what would happen under sequestration "very well," while 35
percent understand it "fairly well," 25 percent understand it "not too
well" and 21 percent "not at all well."
A matter of widespread public interest or no, the looming cuts have already taken a toll on the economy, according to a new survey
by the Associated Press. Of the 37 economists surveyed for the
Associated Press Economy Survey last week, 23 cited paralysis in
Washington as a major factor in slowing the economy.
Many also said they
thought higher tax burdens had led to a temporary slowdown in consumer
spending, but that the budget fights coming out of the nation's capital,
if persistent, would be a significant inhibitor of economic growth.