Nightly News   |  February 19, 2013

As sequester looms, what’s at stake for everyone?

The automatic spending cuts, just days away, would cut $85 billion a year, having an impact on federal food inspectors, TSA officers, Department of Defense and civilian workers. NBC’s John Yang reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> well, we're all veterans now of events with names like the dead ceiling deadline, the fiscal cliff, and the next one is barrelling down the tracks. it is called the sequester, but it has nothing to do with a jury. and if it isn't stopped, if it's allowed to go through in ten days, huge automatic spending cuts go into effect. the president used some dire language to warn about it today. and tonight nbc's john yang explains what the sequester is and the impact it could have for everyone.

>> reporter: with no budget deal in sight, an automatic spending cuts just days away , president obama said today it was the fault of congressional republicans.

>> they haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts.

>> reporter: republicans blame the president.

>> the president, back in the last session of congress, refused to cut spending in any place.

>> reporter: they're fighting over a sequester. washingtonspeak for the $1.2 trillion across-the-board spending cuts that would begin march 1st unless congress and the president agree on a deficit-cutting package.

>> the problem with it is it doesn't distinguish between wasteful spending and very good spending.

>> reporter: through 2021 , it means cutting $85 billion a year, half from the pentagon, half from nondefense programs. everything from education to national parks to meals on wheels. exempt from the cuts, programs like social security and veterans' benefits and student loans. the administration warns federal food inspectors would be temporarily furloughed. that could mean less product, higher prices and fewer jobs. air travelers may see longer lines at security checkpoints. by one congressional estimate, as many as 9,000 tsa officers may have to be laid off. the pentagon budget would be cut 11% a year even as the war in afghanistan continues. d.o.d. civilian workers will likely take the hit. plans call for more than 700,000 to take one day off a week without pay, a 20% pay cut. jason mckenzie owns ride on bikes in columbus, georgia, home to fort benning . military employees make up half his business so smaller paychecks could mean fewer sales.

>> it's going to take money out of everybody's pocket, everything. everybody will stop spending, everybody.

>> reporter: one of the ripple effects of gridlock in washington felt far beyond the beltway. john yang , nbc news, chicago.