Utah affected by looming sequestration

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The White House issued a press release Monday saying the sequester will have a devastating impact on jobs and the American middle class if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise.

“Sequestration” is a budgetary term used to explain a spending-cut process.

Republicans and Democrats are still arguing over whose idea the sequestration cuts were. According to PolitiFact, the sequestration cuts were proposed by the White House. Obama signed the across-the-board federal spending cuts into law in 2011, never meaning for them to go into effect. The $85 billion in automatic cuts were intended as a mechanism to get Republicans to negotiate during the budget crisis of 2011. The sequester represents two to three percent of the federal budget.

Right now, the national debt is over $16 trillion.

The White House sent out a report of the sequester’s impact state by state, showing which programs would receive cuts and by how much. According to the report, Utah could lose $6,260,000 in primary and secondary education funding, $119,000 to support law enforcement and crime prevention and $1,289,000 to ensure clean water and air quality in the next year if Congress fails to act.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising — instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans — they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class,” President Obama said in his weekly White House telecast.

Matt Harakal, press secretary for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Hatch is opposed to the current structure of the sequester (meaning where and by how much specific agencies will be cut) but thinks we need spending cuts in place.

Possibly as early as Wednesday, Senate Republicans will have an alternative proposal to the Democrats’ bill that will change the structure of the cuts, Harakal said.

Last Tuesday Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told the Utah Legislature that both Republicans and Democrats would see “sweeping cuts to programs they care about,” according to the Deseret News. Lee told KSL-TV Monday that Democrats have not put forth a plan that could get enough votes.

Congress has until Friday to agree on budget cuts, or the sequester will go into effect.

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