Chris Hayes began his Sunday show by discussing a recent Pew Research poll that asked Americans whether they wanted to increase, decrease, or maintain funding levels for various government programs.
While in the abstract Americans often advocate for cuts, when asked about specifics in a poll conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18, a majority wanted to increase or maintain spending for most programs.
In fact, Americans did not want cuts in 18 of the 19 programs surveyed and were only willing to decrease world aid to those in need.
However, the percentage that want increased or maintained spending has decreased in the past 25 years, according to Pew.
"The conversation is moving towards austerity, even if the public still mostly wants to either increase or maintain funding and not cut," Hayes said.
In recent years, there has been a particular drop in the percent who want to see increased spending in health care.
The panel's discussion comes in the face of looming, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. By March 1, unless Congress can agree on an alternate plan, the government will implement cuts to get to roughly $1 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years, a figure which experts say will slow the economy. According to the New York Times, the cuts set to begin March 1 would amount to 9 percent for nondefense programs and 13 percent for defense programs.
"This has been the guiding argument of the tea party, of Republicans. Their argument is that the government is in the way of growth, right, So the fact that they're, after all that media barrage, they're still people who recognize, 'You know what, schools and teachers help us, in the long term,' is actually a statement of how incredibly embedded those values are. People don't like things cut," said Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress.
She went on to say that sequestration will cut things that help people and "that's why it's insane that the Republican posture or the conservative posture on this is, 'We have to take these cuts,' instead of just having a few more revenue raisers," she said.
"Just pass the thing that gets rid of the sequestration," Hayes implored, instead of getting hung up on what to replace the cuts with, which "opens up new fronts of political battle."
"Why doesn't President Obama ask for exactly that?" asked Unviersity of Missouri-Kansas City professor William Black.
"Right, so I'm a Democrat, but I got to tell you, sequestration was an administration idea. It simply was. I know why they did it," he said, adding that the GOP was "involved every step of the way, but it was actually designed and indeed, what hasn't been in the press but I've written about, is the president opposed it when Republicans tried to get rid of the trigger, and he actually issued a veto threat when they tried to get rid of it," he said.
Everyone on the panel appeared to agree that sequestration was a "stupid" idea.
Watch the video, via MSNBC, below.