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Deadline Day: Things you should know about sequestration

By Kristian Weatherspoon | Published 01 Jan 2013 06:01pm | comments

The sequestration deadline is today and if government officials don’t come to a deficit reduction agreement by midnight tonight, the much talked about “across-the –board” budget cuts will take effect.  We’ve gathered some of the more useful reporting on sequestration from around the web to answer questions you may have about the issue.   

What is sequestration?

Let’s break this down.

To stabilize our economy, $4 trillion in deficit reduction cuts were mandated in the Budget Control Act of 2011.  Of that $4 trillion, by way of spending cuts and tax increases, the federal government managed to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion dollars.  After the fiscal cliff agreement in January, the deadline to “make the cut,” or the rest of the cuts, was pushed back to March 1. After averting the fiscal cliff, Congress was still responsible for settling the remaining debt by coming to another agreement on paying off the leftover $1.2 trillion dollars. 

Enter the sequester…..

 The sequester was put in place with the hope that the harsh, arbitrary nature of the cuts would incentivize Democrats and Republicans to find common ground and avoid the “across-the-board” cuts by developing a more targeted deficit reduction plan.   Well, this did not happen and here we are.

 What are Democrats saying:

CBS News reports,

The cuts, Mr. Obama says, will result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, crippling losses for the nation's public education system, defense cuts that would leave the country unprepared for future military engagements, and a number of day-to-day inconveniences, like long lines at the airport and the shuttering of some public parks.”

What are Republicans saying:

The Washington Post’s WonkBlog reports,

“At this point, Republicans basically support the sequester because it’s all spending cuts, but they want the cuts allocated more intelligently. …And so Republicans want to make the sequester a bit better and a lot more permanent while the White House opposes efforts to make the sequester better precisely because it would make it more permanent.”

Some of the more common questions circulating concerning sequestration include,

What will the sequester specifically cut?

Who will feel the impact directly?

When will citizens begin feeling the impact?

What exactly are “across-the-board” spending cuts? (NPR provides a comprehensive breakdown of the meaning)

Answers to most of these questions are still largely speculative.  What we do know is that these cuts will basically involve across-the-board budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion from defense and non-defense spending over the course of the next ten years.

 

(President Obama talks about the sequestrian deadline)

 

(House Speaker John Boehner talks about the sequestrian)

 

This week the White House released a state-by-state list of the possible impact of sequestration on state budgets. 

(Mississippi breakdown and analysis by Sam Hall/Clarion-Ledger)

Here in Mississippi, hit hard would be our primary and secondary education system which could stand to lose would lose about $5.5 million if the sequestration budget cuts go into effect.

Dr. Lynn House, Interim Superintendent for the Mississippi Department of Education, says students will eventually feel the effects of the cuts.

 "Well bottom line, teachers who are providing services will be lost. While we still have some students that will get services, when you start reducing the number of teachers available, the number of resources available, you're going to impact those students.”

 Also on the chopping block, could be civilian workforce in at the State's armed forces stations such as our National Guard.

Here’s a link to all of MPB News coverage on sequestration.

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