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What is sequestration

Across the country, the big word on almost everyone’s lips is “sequestration.” What is it? Here is what we found.

Sequestration was created in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act. That’s when Congress raised the debt ceiling in order to avoid a government shutdown. Sequestration was created to keep both parties focused on the “big thing”… how to spur economic growth and prosperity and reduce the deficit.

The president believes growth comes from tax increases, investment, and spending reductions.

“I’ve made that commitment. It’s reflected in proposals I made last year and the year before that and will be reflected in my budget and I stand by those commitments to make the reforms for smart spending cuts, but we also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago,” said President Barack Obama.

Republicans believe growth comes through lower taxes and spending reductions, which in turn will spur companies to hire and invest.

The president believes that taxes should increase as a matter of fairness, because the system is tilted in favor of the wealthy and well-connected.

Republicans believe the federal government is already taking an unfair amount of taxes from everyone.

“The president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester.Well Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It’s time you cut spending in Washington, instead of using our men and women as campaign props. If the president was serious, he’d sit down with Harry Reid,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

So lawmakers came up with a mechanism to get both sides back together, focused on the “big thing”, our economy, and they named it sequestration. It’s a series of across-the-board government budget cuts designed to be so distasteful to both parties that they would take appropriate action to grow the economy.

“Unfortunately in just four days, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow economy, eliminate good jobs, leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do,” said Obama.

The CATO Institute puts the cuts into perspective. The $85 billion in sequestration spending cuts translates into a $44 billion reduction in actual federal expenditures for 2013. To balance the budget this year, the reduction in expenditures would have to be almost 20 times larger.

As of Monday, both sides had failed to reach a compromise on sequestration. If they don’t by the end of the week, those cuts will go into effect.

Sunday, the White House released a report detailing how the spending cuts would affect each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report shows Idaho will lose nearly $4 million for primary and secondary education. That could put about 50 teachers out of job and 30 fewer schools would receive funding.

Among other things, the report also shows Idaho’s defense spending will take a hit. This means some $6.8 million in cuts, 2,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees will be furloughed and base funding cut by $1.7 million.

Idaho will also lose about $82,000 in grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts.

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he believes a deal can be reached, but adds the president needs to stop trying to scare the American people. Jindal believes the government can cut less than 3 percent without all these consequences.

Despite the looming deadline, there is no indication that the White House and Congress are negotiating.

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