Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for overstating the impacts in an attempt to pressure them into a deal.
"There's a lot of questions about how the White House is handling the communications on this," House Speaker John Boehner said shortly after the cuts took effect on March 1.
In response to a recent administration request for states to reimburse some already allocated funds due to the sequester, 31 House members -- including four Democrats -- sent a letter last week calling the move "an obvious attempt ... to make the sequester as painful as possible."
Obama argues that anything to stunt economic growth as the recovery continues to struggle should be avoided. However, he may have lost some credibility after statements in the heat of the political battle in February that now seem overzealous.
"Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," the president said on Feb. 19. "Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings."
Ten days later, with a compromise unreachable and the cuts kicking in, Obama toned down the rhetoric.
"What's important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away," he told a news conference, later adding that "we will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think as some people have said. It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt."
The bottom line, according to Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein of the Brookings Institution, is that the damage from the forced spending cuts "will accumulate in less visible ways, as irrational reductions in public spending impede economic growth and job creation; reduce investments in education, infrastructure and scientific research; and further disrupt the routines of a modern democracy."
"The longer the sequester remains in place," they recently wrote in the Washington Post, "the more harm is inflicted."
Fuller agreed that it would take years to assess the full impact of the sequester's impact now, but said that in the end, renewed confidence would mean a growing economy and "we'll forget about it at some point."