Skip to main content

By the Numbers: Automatic spending cuts

By Amy Roberts, CNN Library
updated 9:31 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Approximately $16.5 trillion - The United States national debt
  • $1.2 trillion - Total amount of the potential cuts, over 10 years
  • $85 billion - Deficit reduction needed to postpone cuts through September 2013
  • 2% - Cuts to Medicare if "sequestration" takes effect

(CNN) -- While a growing chorus in Washington, including President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, multiple Cabinet secretaries, and some political pundits, criticize deep, automatic spending cuts set to take effect on March 1, the White House and Congress have yet to come up with an alternative to avoid them.

CNN Explains: Sequestration

Special coverage on CNNMoney.com: America's Debt Challenge

TIME.com: A guide to sequestration

With the imposition of at least some of them appearing more and more likely, here's a look, by the numbers, at Washington's self-imposed budget austerity (aka "sequestration" or the "sequester"):

The real impact of automatic cuts and why they may happen after all

Obama: Let's pay our bills on time
Pelosi psychoanalyzes Boehner
Obama details 394 pages of spending cuts

2 - Provisions in the Budget Act of 2011 that can result in automatic spending cuts: Appropriating funds over newly established spending caps for years 2012-2021, where the extra amount is automatically cut, and failure of Congress to enact specific deficit-reduction legislation, which has happened.

$1.2 trillion - Total amount of the potential sequestration cuts, over 10 years. This is based on the amount not cut from the deficit by the congressional "super committee" created by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

CNNMoney.com: The 2011 debt ceiling deal

$85 billion - Amount of deficit reduction necessary for fiscal year 2013 in order to postpone the automatic spending cuts from taking effect March 1.

Senate Democrats offer plan to avert mandatory cuts

Boehner says sequester bad policy but punts to Senate Democrats

Approximately $16.5 trillion - The United States national debt.

CNNMoney.com: What you need to know about the debt ceiling

General: We face a 'readiness crisis'
Gates: Sequestration is a big concern
Troops' paychecks under attack

9.4% - Reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding if sequestration takes effect.

By the numbers: Recent defense spending

8.2% - Reduction in non-exempt nondefense discretionary funding if sequestration takes effect.

2% - Cuts to Medicare if sequestration takes effect.

7.6% - Cuts to other non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs if sequestration takes effect.

10% - Cuts to non-exempt defense mandatory programs if sequestration takes effect.

10 - Number of days after the end of a session of Congress during which the Congressional Budget Office must submit a sequestration report on the current fiscal year.

About $130 million - Amount of lost funding if sequestration takes effect from the Department of the Interior to Native American tribes.

About 1,200 - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace inspections that would be cut.

Up to $902 million - Reductions in loan guarantees to small businesses if sequestration takes effect.

Fear over the looming spending cuts

CNNMoney.com: White House details pending budget cuts

Up to 766,000 - Number of health care-related jobs that could be lost or eliminated due to 2% cuts in Medicare spending under sequestration, according to a recent report from the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association.

Kerry: Cuts would hit foreign aid, diplomatic security

Panetta: World is watching U.S. on budget

CNNMoney.com: Spending cuts to hurt homeland security

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Forced Budget Cuts
Share your story, along with a photo of yourself.
United States Marines are being told to preserve ammunition and gasoline as a deal softening the impact of automatic spending cuts continues to elude leaders in Washington.
Our interactive table tracks major areas of the federal government where an impact has been projected and what has actually happened.
CNN's Tom Foreman answered questions about how forced budget cuts will impact you.
For the most part, the ramifications would kick in over months, not several days or weeks.
The political bickering over the automatic spending cuts has done little but cloud the public's understanding of what's going on and why. So we'll try to set the record straight on at least a few oft-repeated misconceptions.
We've had enough of the Beltway's wacky terms. Using fancy-pants words to dramatize and complicate otherwise simple concepts is becoming a habit of lawmakers.
updated 9:28 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Here we go: A new round of confrontation between the White House and Congress over the federal budget is in the offing, this time in a new attempt to avert the looming "sequestration" process.
updated 1:24 PM EST, Thu February 21, 2013
Most Americans will feel the impact of forced budget cuts when their lives intersect with government -- trying to get through airport security to make a flight, visiting a national park, or using federal programs or assistance.
updated 2:16 PM EST, Wed February 27, 2013
Forced budget cuts aren't the only fiscal headache facing Congress. On March 27, the so-called continuing resolution that funds federal programs runs out and the government could shut down.
updated 7:10 AM EST, Mon February 25, 2013
Dan Malloy, Haley Barbour, Gwen Ifill, and Jackie Calmes consider who will take the blame if budget cuts go forward.
updated 9:46 PM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
Two days after a Federal Aviation Administration official told contractors that steps were being taken to shut down 168 air traffic control towers on April 1, the agency gave the towers an unexpected reprieve Friday, saying the official's comments were "unauthorized."
updated 9:29 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
From military training to educational grants to border patrols to hurricane relief, federal agencies face $85 billion in automatic, government-wide spending cuts this year.
The sequester would touch many, many government programs and services. These 57 are a somewhat random sampling of what could happen.
How much will be cut? What would be affected? How quickly will the cuts hit? CNN Money answers these questions and more.
ADVERTISEMENT