This spring, the first of what could be eight years of across-the-board spending cuts — known as “sequestration” — hit hundreds of federal agencies and programs, from the Pentagon to Head Start. Enacted by Congress in hopes of pushing lawmakers to compromise on a plan to shrink federal deficits, sequestration threatens annual cuts to programs dear to both political parties. In recent years, Washington budget debates have stalemated over Republican demands for cuts to many federal programs the party deems too large and expensive and Democrats' insistence that tax increases be part of any deal. With action stalled on spending for food stamps and farm subsidies and debate raging over proposed cuts to Social Security, compromise seems unlikely. Still unknown is whether the public will eventually oppose the sequester cuts or accept trimmed-back services as the new normal.