What is Sequestration? A primer on mandated, automatic budget cuts
By Jay Keller
Mandated, automatic budget cuts, also known as sequestration, scheduled to begin on Friday will result in a major disruption to Federal and state programs, impacting millions of people throughout the U.S.
Budget cuts through sequester first came about as a gut-check incentive for lawmakers working to achieve $4 trillion in budget cuts to remain vigilant on trimming the federal deficit.
The law, which passed in 2011, stipulated that if both parties couldn’t reach that $4 billion goal, an estimated $1 billion in automatic cuts would start to take effect March 1, 2013, through sequestration. Unfortunately, compromise has yet to be achieved.
According to the White House budget figures, the cuts would span seven months and mean a nine-percent reduction for non-defense programs and a 13-percent cutback for defense programs.
Domestic programs hit by automatic cutbacks would include airport security, federal nutrition programs, disaster-relief programs and education funding for teachers and students.
The impact on local and state governments will vary widely and a full list of endangered programs on the state level is available on the White House website.
Overall, most of the cuts will come from federal support for state-run programs that pay for teacher salaries, after-school programs and work-study jobs.
Clean air and water protections also would be in jeopardy along with funding for law enforcement, public safety and military readiness. Public health and vaccination programs would suffer in many different ways depending on the state.
Teachers wouldn’t be the only class of workers to hit by sequestration as many analysts believe the job losses will be greater than either side anticipates.
If the Federal government reduces contracts with the private sector, expect more layoffs despite a sluggish economy.
Civilian hiring for the Dept. of Defense would freeze, FAA and customs and border patrol workers would be furloughed for a number of days to trim the bottom line. Additionally, these cuts would lead to further workforce reduction efforts across the board.
The political debate over the automatic budget cuts has produced a messaging war between President Obama and Congressional leaders as both sides work to strike a deal.
Both sides remain steadfast, with Obama championing a new plan to avoid cuts while Congressional Republican oppose the plan and say the sequester can be avoided without raising taxes.