Sequestration is little more than a complicated way of talking about across-the-board budget cuts, aimed at reducing spending. The hubbub is justified, but it's a problem that was created by a divided Congress that seems to be incapable of reaching agreements. Below are 10 facts (and a few graphs) that'll give you a well rounded picture of the situation.
1. It's formally known as the Budget Control Act.
Or the BCA, for short. Signed into law in August 2011, it was designed to get Congress to agree to a national-debt reduction plan. They didn't.
2. Sequestration calls for $1.2 Trillion in cuts over 9 years.
Future proposed budgets would have to take into account the reductions.
3. The cuts are to be divided equally between defense and non-defense spending.
Everyone gets a piece of the action. Individual cut sizes will be based on the size of departments.
4. The measures would not effect the national debt in a meaningful way.
$1.2 trillion is a lot of money, but it's not nearly enough, and not targeted correctly. The growth of the national debt will continue.
5. Some believe that it could cripple the armed forces.
Senator John McCain and other believe that the DoD cuts are too deep. The proposed 2013 military budget is already a significant reduction over recent years.
6. Permanent federal employees and military personnel cannot be laid off.
Temporary staffing positions are still on the chopping block, but others would be safe. Though, many people in some agencies would likely receive furloughs of varying lengths.
7. No bases will be closed.
Bases cannot be closed because of sequestration. The effects would be too detrimental to communities and national defense needs.
8. Overseas Contigency Operation (OCO) funds are protected.
These funds include those that are used in Afghanistan and Iraq. These allocations total $88.5 billion, and cannot be cut.
9. The across-the-board cuts will likely go into effect for a short amount of time.
Barring new debt legislation, budget reductions begin on March 1. Fear not. Even if they do, the cuts can be reversed by a long-term agreement on a debt reduction plan.
10. President Obama and Congress can stop it at any time.
They are the ones who are responsible for creating, and subsequently delaying sequestration. Perhaps it is the thus far paper-tiger nature of the cuts that have failed to motivate Congress to any sort of agreements.
Below is an infographic that we made which specifically explains DoD cuts. More about that can be read here.