Sequester explained as deadline looms

The road to sequester and what it means for Florida

Author: Steven Cooper, Problem Solver, scooper@clickorlando.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 11:46:49 AM EDT   Updated On: Feb 28 2013 07:33:07 PM EST
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ORLANDO, Fla. -

There's little hope for a deal to avoid tomorrow's sequester, $85 billion dollars of mandatory across-the-board spending cuts that will go into effect because congressional leaders failed to reach a deal on spending reduction.

The sequester is the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, otherwise  known as the deal to lift the debt ceiling.  The debt ceiling was raised in exchange for $1.2 trillion dollars in spending cuts, which were to be determined by tomorrow by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, a so-called super committee.

The group failed to reach an agreement, despite the threat of sequestration which was designed to be unpalatable to both parties (Republicans balking at defense cuts, Democrats balking at cuts to education and social programs); that failure automatically launches the massive cuts tomorrow to defense and other departments and agencies.

The White House warns the sequester will cost 700-thousand jobs this year and slow economic growth, which is already slow, by half.   The Obama Administration recently released state-by-state details of the effects of sequestration.

This is what it might mean for Florida:

Many Republican leaders have called White House estimates scare tactics.  But the impasse is real.  The two sides simply cannot agree on how to reduce spending and balance the budget.  Republicans insist there will be no more tax hikes on the wealthy, while the White House insists the only way to move the economy forward is with a mix of cuts and revenues. 

One thing both sides agree on: the impact of sequestration will not be immediate.  The effects will play out throughout March, with most of the pain coming toward the end of the month.  All cuts can immediately be reversed if and when Congress reaches a deal.