The big picture and big numbers
A series of cuts to federal agencies that would lead to longer lines at the nation’s borders, less money for teachers and more hassle at airport checkpoints. Virtually every dollar approved each year by Congress would be slashed by a uniform amount, which would mean at least temporary layoffs for hundreds of thousands of public and private-sector workers. Programs like Medicare and Social Security are exempt, but there is no question the slashing of other programs would slow the nation’s fragile economic recovery.
Under a 2011 law designed to avert exactly this type of inaction, March 1 means automatic cuts of $85 billion from a $3.6 trillion budget over the seven months spanning March-September. That would include cuts of 8 percent to the Pentagon and 5 percent to domestic agency operating budgets. More than 3.8 million Americans who have been jobless for six months or longer could see their unemployment benefits reduced by as much as 9.4 percent.