Sequester: A fiscal cliff we will go over

Officials testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the impacts of sequestration and/or a full-year continuing resolution on the Defense Department, on Capitol Hill February 12, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

The sequester and its federal budget cuts are just four days away. If Congress and the White House do not act this week, $85 billion will be slashed from the federal budget on Friday. As the government gets closer to that deadline, the warnings about what the budget cuts would mean are getting louder.

"There is certainly some truth to the charge that the president is using this to raise public pressure on members [of Congress]," says Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University.

Last night the White House released a report that illustrates the effects of the cuts state by state. New York would lose $42 million of education funding. Pennsylvania programs that provide meals to senior citizens would get cut. And in Virginia, close to 90,000 defense department civilian employees would be furloughed.

At the federal level, about 400 national parks would see reduced hours or closures. Border stations would also have to cut back on resources creating longer lines at border crossings in Texas and California and at airports across the country.

Although Congress has avoided several fiscal deadlines in the eleventh-hour in the last few months, such as January's fiscal cliff and debt ceiling extension, many political analysts are not optimistic a deal will be struck this time.

To hear more about the sequester standoff and its effect on the economy, click on the audio player above.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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