Friday, March 1, 2013
March 1 - start of steep automatic budget cuts in the US - layoffs, job cuts, deep austerity in the works?
(Reuters) - The U.S. government hurtled on Friday toward making deep spending cuts that threaten to hinder the nation's economic recovery, after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan.
Locked in during a bout of deficit-reduction fever in 2011, the time-released "automatic" cuts can only be halted by agreement between Republican lawmakers and the White House.
That has proved elusive so far.
Both sides still hope the other will either be blamed by voters for the cuts or cave in before the worst effects - like air traffic chaos or furloughs for tens of thousands of federal employees - start to bite in the coming weeks.
Barring any breakthroughs in the next few hours, the cuts will begin to come into force at some time before midnight on Friday night. The full brunt of the belt tightening, known in Washington as "sequestration," will take effect over seven months so it is not clear if there will be an immediate disruption to public services.