By the Numbers: Automatic spending cuts

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  • 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

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

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.

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$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.

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Approximately $16.5 trillion - The United States national debt.

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

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Gates: Sequestration is a big concern

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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.

CNNMoney.com: White House details pending budget cuts

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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.

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      Sequestration

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • sequester impact acosta pkg_00001719.jpg

      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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      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.
    • 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."
    • The US Capitol dome and it's reflection are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 29, 2012. As the fiscal cliff deadline looms, Congress and the White House have still not reached a compromise. If no deal is struck by December 31 at midnight, taxes will automatically go up on both high earners and the middle class, and across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

      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.