If you think the automatic spending cuts won't affect your everyday routine, you're wrong.
With less than two weeks before the across-the-board spending cuts kick in, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a grim assessment today (Wednesday) of what Americans could expect come March 1.
The planned spending cuts would slash some $85 billion out of the White House budget this year alone, resulting in the furlough of F.B.I. agents, delayed flights, layoffs of police officers and teachers, the release of criminals and shuttered day care centers.
"Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids," President Obama said.
It may take a while for the ultimate impacts to be felt as agencies adjust, but the cuts would slowly and steadily ripple through the government and the economy as myriad agencies grapple with the changes.
The Congressional Budget Office warned in a recent blog post, "Discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures; additional reductions in outlays attributed to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years."
Here's a rundown of some of the immediate changes that could affect you.Don't Expect Travel to be the Same
Travelers should allow for even more time between connections, to pass through security, and clear customs if the budget cuts kick-in. That's because federal agencies that handle airport security, customs and air traffic control will need to lay off employees.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told Congress last week that furloughs at the Transpiration Security Administration will result in fewer available officers and inspectors. Passengers could wait an additional hour to pass through security and up to four to clear customs at the nation's busiest airports.
"Such delays not only would cause thousands of missed passenger connections, they would have severe economic consequences at both the local and national levels," Napolitano stressed.What Automatic Spending Cuts Will Do to Unemployed
Those who have already lost their jobs could be further impacted as the long-term unemployed stand to lose 10% of their weekly jobless benefits.
The Department of Labor warns the imminent spending cuts would reduce funding for the amount paid out to millions of Americans unable to find work. At stake is the loss of more than $400 in benefits (over 47 weeks) to individuals who have exhausted regular state benefits, which last 26 weeks.
Congress authorized extended benefits in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. With unemployment still at an unhealthy 7.9%, scores of out-of-work Americans depend on government benefits to just pay rent and buy food. Any reduction in benefits could derail any economic recovery progress we've made.
For insight on how you can take the news out of Washington and use it to grow your money, check out Keith Fitz-Gerald's "Five State of the Union Bullet Points You Need to Know"
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