Under sequestration, federal agencies don't have the flexibility to choose to spare popular programs or services by making administrative cuts elsewhere.
Credit Tatiana Popova / iStockphoto.com
Inconveniencing the public is part of the plan.
It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.
"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."
The "it" is sequestration — $85 billion worth of across-the-board federal spending cuts that are due to start kicking in at the end of Friday unless Republican and Democratic leaders somehow bridge their differences.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:28 am
By S.V. Dáte
The U.S. Capitol is seen Tuesday, three days before the government sequester is scheduled to begin. It would require $85 billion in across-the-board government spending cuts over the next seven months, but would not target specific programs.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite / AP
If it seems odd that so many members of Congress have such trouble coming up with specific things to cut from the budget (apart from the usual favorites, "waste" and "fraud), perhaps they're simply taking their cues from their bosses, their constituents.
The Pew Research Center studied this in a recent poll, and found that of 19 different budget categories, there is majority support for cutting spending in exactly none of them.
A nutrition specialist prepares a Meals on Wheels delivery in upstate New York. The national organization says the sequester could mean significant cuts in the number of meals they serve to homebound seniors.
The U.S. Capitol, as seen from the nearby Russell Senate Office Building.
Credit Jonathan Ernst / Reuters /Landov
As Friday's deadline approaches, we're pointing to stories that should help everyone get ready for "the sequester" — the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts in federal spending that would begin to kick in that day if lawmakers don't strike some sort of deal before then. (We won't call them "must-reads" because we'd never want to tell anyone that they "must" read anything about this subject. Let's refer to them as "should-reads.")