Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 12:08 pm
By Krishnadev Calamur
The White House and congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm bells over the consequences of the sequester, the across-the-board cuts to the budget that are scheduled to go into effect in March.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the cuts would offset "pretty good" economic activity over the past few months. He said President Obama had a plan to cut an addition $1.5 trillion from the deficit.
It's been about a year and a half since Gen. Martin Dempsey left his job as chief of staff of the Army and became President Obama's top military adviser as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dempsey is now responsible for reshaping the U.S. military after 10 years of war, which means scaling the forces down. At the same time, he's fighting to stave off across-the-board cuts to the defense budget — the so called sequester — that could happen in a couple weeks if Congress fails to reach some kind of budget deal.
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With Congress headed for a recess, prospects are dimming for a deal to keep the nation from falling off the next fiscal cliff - sequestration. That's the term for automatic spending cuts that go into effect March 1.
NPR's Mara Liasson explains how the White House and Congress got to this impasse and why it's so hard to get past it.