With No Breakthrough in Negotiations, U.S. Braces for Broad Spending Cuts
Despite President Barack Obama's warnings that the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester would hurt the U.S. economy and put hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs at risk, the cuts went into effect on Friday.
The White House and Congress have been negotiating over ways to trim the nation's debt by 1.2 trillion dollars over ten years,.. and their failure to reach an agreement on an alternative to the sequester will make the cuts a reality.
Democrats voted down a Republican proposal on Thursday, that would've given the president more flexibility in deciding how to implement the cuts.
Republicans, on the other hand, rejected a Democratic alternative that would have replaced the cuts with a combination of tax increases on the rich and spending cuts.
Now, with billions of dollars in across-the-board cuts on the horizon, there are concerns that both the military and domestic security agencies will be short of funding for needed services, crimping U.S. military activities especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
"And they would degrade our ability to respond to crises precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe. North Africa to the Strait of Hormuz from Syria to North Korea."
Travelers will also feel the effects of the cuts at airports, as lines at airport security are expected to get much longer at major airports for both domestic and international flights into and out of the U.S.
"Average wait times to clear customs will increase by as much as 50 percent, and at our busiest airports, like Newark and JFK, LAX and O'Hare, peak wait times which can reach over two hours could easily grow to four hours or more."
While most experts agree the cuts could endanger the economic recovery in progress in the U.S., the question now is when the cuts will hit and how severe their effects will be on ordinary Americans.
Most government services will be cut and tens of thousands of federal employees will be forced to take unpaid leave.
Spending on discretionary items like education and environmental protection will also be cut as well.
Lee Ji-yoon, Arirang News.
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