A federal report released last week details the potential depth and nature of budget cutbacks that could be triggered under the “sequestration” process envisioned by previous legislation to target federal debt and budget deficits. Congress enacted laws to take effect at the end of this calendar year, in the absence of another long-term plan.
The Pentagon would delay investments in new equipment and facilities, slash its R&D efforts and provide fewer services to military families. There would be fewer grants for school programs, the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to manage air traffic control would be compromised, and there were be fewer FBI agents, border agents, correctional officers and federal prosecutors. Fewer food processing plants would be inspected, and the National Institutes of Health would have to cut back on research on cancer and other diseases.
Plus, Medicare providers would face a 2 percent cut in reimbursements — an outcome that could lead more doctors to stop caring for Medicare patients.
“There is no question that sequestration would be deeply destructive,” a senior administration official told reporters during a background call on the report.
Neither President Barack Obama nor Republicans want sequestration to go into effect — it was intended to be so unacceptable that it would force Congress to agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the report “underscores the urgent need for the president to work with congressional Republicans to replace these destructive cuts.”