Poll: Majority says cuts will have major effect on economy, military

A new poll finds the public worrying that impending sequester cuts could weaken the nation’s economic recovery and the Pentagon.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said the effect on the economy of the $85 billion in automatic cuts slated to take effect on Friday will be negative, according to a new Washington Post/Pew Research poll released on Tuesday. Eighteen percent said they expected the cuts to have a positive effect on the economy. Five percent said the cuts would have no effect, with the rest unsure.

Overall, 60 percent predicted the sequester would have a “major effect” on the economy, with 25 percent expecting a “minor effect.”

Fifty-five percent said the cuts would have a major effect on the military, with 25 percent saying sequester would have a minor effect on the Pentagon.

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But while Americans are concerned about the economy and military, the poll also finds that most believe the sequester will not negatively affect their own personal financial situation. Fifty-nine percent said the cuts would have a minor or no effect at all on their personal finances, with 30 percent fearing a major effect. 

The poll’s results come as President Obama has amplified efforts to blame Republicans for the impending cuts and warned of the impact the sequester would have. 

The administration has spent the last week warning that the cuts would result in teachers and emergency workers losing their jobs, slow the nation’s transportation grid, undercut military preparedness, and weaken the nation’s economy.

The White House on Monday ratcheted up its rhetoric, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warning that the cuts could leave the nation more vulnerable to terrorist attack. Obama on Tuesday will also visit Newport News, Va., to warn of job losses at the state’s largest manufacturer and the effect on defense industries.

Republicans have pushed back, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling Obama a “road show” president more concerned with campaigning and less focused on reaching a solution to avert the cuts. GOP lawmakers have charged that the White House is employing scare tactics to rally public support in the sequester debate.

The poll’s finding, though, suggest that Obama’s hits on the GOP could cost the party leverage. Forty-five percent say Republicans in Congress will be to blame if a deal is not reached, with 32 percent blaming the president. Thirteen percent say they would blame both sides equally. 

Both sides are at an impasse over a replacement to the across-the-board cuts. Democrats are pushing for a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes to offset the sequester. But Republicans say they will only accept a deal with targeted spending cuts.