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Automatic spending cuts would bite more in 2014

November 11, 2013 • National News


FILE – This Aug. 1, 2013 file photo shows Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., flanked by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. The first year of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts didn’t live up to the dire predictions of those who warned of sweeping furloughs and big disruptions of government services, but the second round just might. “They squeezed everything to get through the first year thinking we would come to our senses,” said Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., of agency budget chiefs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just longstanding battles over taxes and curbing mandatory spending that are obstacles to a year-end pact on the budget. Another problem is a perception among some lawmakers that the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration haven’t been as harsh as advertised.

Indeed, the first year of the automatic cuts didn’t live up to the dire predictions from the Obama administration and others who warned of sweeping furloughs and big disruptions of government services.

But the second round is going to be a lot worse, lawmakers and budget experts say. One reason is that federal agencies that have emptied the change jar and searched beneath the sofa cushions for money to ease the pain of sequestration have been so far able to make it through the automatic cuts relatively unscathed. Employee furloughs haven’t been as extensive as feared and agencies were able to maintain most services.

Most of that money, however, has been spent in the 2013 budget year that ended on Sept. 30.

The Pentagon used more than $5 billion in unspent money from previous years to ease its $39 billion budget cut. Furloughs originally scheduled for 11 days were cut back to six days. The Login to read more

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