No Agreement in Place to Block Sequester
On Friday, the U.S. government was hurtling toward the deep cuts in spending that threaten to set back the economic recovery in the nation, after Congressional Democrats and Republicans failed to find an agreement on another plan to reduce the deficit.
The sequester of $85 billion in cuts was expected to cause a disruption in public services, delays at most airports, and layoffs or lower pay for millions of people who work for the government.
The sequester was locked in place during the 2011 deficit-reduction frenzy and the time-released steep cuts will only be halted by an agreement between the White House and Republican lawmakers. That agreement has proven to be very evasive up to this point.
Both the White House and Republicans hope the other would cave in prior to the worst effects or be blamed for the cuts taking place, such as furloughs for thousands of government employees and chaos due to lack of air traffic controllers that will start to take place soon.
Barring a last minute breakthrough over the next couple of hours, the budget cuts will start sometime prior to midnight March 1. The cuts’ full force will take effect over a seven-month period, so it is not certain there will be any immediate disruption to public services.
On Friday morning, President Obama was scheduled to meet with Congresses’ top leaders in the White House to explore the possibility of avoiding the cuts. Nevertheless, the expectations are low that a deal could be found when Obama meets with the leaders from both parties.
The Democrats have insisted that an increase in taxes be one of the solutions to stopping the automatic cuts, but the Republicans have repeatedly rejected that idea.