WASHINGTON -- Nobody is particularly happy about the arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts taking effect as a result of sequestration. That is, except for maybe Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), who said Tuesday that his constituents want even more cuts to kick in.
"The people that I've talked to seem to be doing well," Long told local news affiliate KOLR10 News. "In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less."
Long said people in other parts of the country may be feeling pain as a result of the $85 billion in cuts. But not his community.
"We haven't seen any measurable effect here at all," he said.
Long is right about one thing: Plenty of people are feeling the effects of sequestration, particularly the nation's most vulnerable. Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers food to the elderly, is cutting as many as 19 million meals this year. Cuts to Head Start, the federal preschool educational, health and nutritional program for disadvantaged children, mean hundreds of low-income parents will be making major life adjustments to accomodate being dropped from the program.
Sequestration will also cause many Medicare patients to be referred to hospitals for cancer treatments, where the costs for some procedures are expected to skyrocket for older Americans.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he's hopeful that he and congressional Republicans can reach a deal to replace the sequester, which took effect on March 1 and runs through the end of September, with broader, more reasonable cuts. But the president acknowledged his powers of persuasion are limited.
"You seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave," Obama said during a White House press briefing. "That's their job. They're elected. Members of Congress are elected in order to do what's right for their constituencies and the American people."