WASHINGTON — Struggling charity groups facing deep cuts to their federal funding amid deepening sequestration are worrying that Democrats and the White House have left them high and dry by failing to make their case to the American public.
Groups that help the less fortunate have been dismayed as the Obama administration has failed to foster outrage at the deep impact sequestration is likely to have on programs that educate, feed, and clothe low-income Americans. Charitable organizations have already seen some cuts to federal funding, and they expect to see more. Local news outlets across the country have covered the serious impact sequestration is having on Head Start, Meals On Wheels, and other programs that rely on federal support as well as private donations.
And yet, Americans don't seem too concerned about sequestration.
Charity groups blame that national apathy in part on poor messaging from the White House, which, in an effort to gain leverage during budget negotiations earlier this year, led many people to believe that the ultimate impact of the sequester would mirror the government shutdowns of the 1990s — and perhaps be even worse.Since the cuts have begun to take effect, however, the only result many Americans know about is the canceled White House tours, a stunt that has become the subject of widespread media attention.
Activists grumble that if Democrats had focused a little more on the poverty impacts of the sequester rather than White House tours and furloughs for federal workers, the public might be more engaged on what sequestration really means.
"The White House, I don't want to say that they haven't spoken up about how this will impact the poor in general. I think they could probably do a better job of saying how this would directly impact poor programs, but, you know, looking at it from the big picture, the big top-level picture," said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at the charity Bread For The World.