Congressman David Cicilline thinks public frustration over broad-based federal spending cuts will lead -- eventually -- to more fruitful budget talks in Congress.
Main Street may not be paying much attention to the latest congressional spending clash. But Cicilline says that will change when the sequester becomes more tangible, with the Congressional Budget Office predicting the potential loss of 750,000 jobs by the end of the year, among other effects.
"I think when people start to begin to feel the effects of this around the country, they're going to reach out to the members of Congress and demand that they be part of a solution," Cicilline said Monday after visiting Core Composites in Bristol.
The owner and president of Core Composites, Richard O'Meara, is unhappy about how his company faces less work in producing military shelters due to the sequester. "It affects us directly," O'Meara told Cicilline during a presentation. "It stinks."
In a subsequent interview, Cicilline called the sequester a distraction from more important issues facing the country, including rebuilding the economy, ending US involvement in the war in Afghanistan, and creating a more competitive education system. "We have a lot on our agenda, and it can not be that for the next two years all we do is go from one manufactured crisis to another," he says.
Part of the difficulty is that a conservative core of Red State Republicans in Congress is concerned with re-election challenges from the right. That makes them more concerned with ideological purity than compromise, as Ryan Lizza noted in his profile last week of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Cicilline holds out hope for two alternatives to overcome that bloc: one is creating "a governing coalition" with a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans. And though the House GOP may well wait to see how the sequester plays with the public, Cicilline predicts growing public frustration over what he calls "deep ideologues" will yield movement.