The $85 billion in cuts, the first stage of a potential $1.2 trillion in reductions over 10 years required by a past deficit agreement, will take effect Friday unless Congress can pass alternative legislation. The U.S. deficit is about $16.5 trillion, according to U.S. Debt Clock.com.
Sunday, The White House released details of what it called devastating”effects on all U.S. states and the District of Columbia, ranging from flight delays and cancellations, to border security and national security impacts, according to the A.M. Costa Rica wire services.
President Barack Obama proposes instead what he calls a balanced approach that includes budget cuts but also significant tax increased on the wealthy, who pay most of the taxes anyway. Sen. Mikulski supports closing what she said are loopholes in the U.S. tax code.
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, appeared at the White House news briefing to speak about wide-ranging severe effects of the sequester, wire services said, adding:.
“Put simply, the automatic budget reduction mandated by sequestration would be disruptive and destructive to our nation’s security and economy,” said Ms. Napolitano.
Ms. Napolitano said impacts would include furloughs of Customs and Border Patrol officers, delays at airports and border crossing points, increased costs to trade, and reduced capabilities to respond to natural disasters.
Asked about increased vulnerability to terrorism, Ms. Napolitano said her agency will undertake the same security checks at border points, but procedures will take longer, and overall security may be weakened.
Conservatives in Congress appear to approve of the mandatory cuts because they do not think the United States government will reduce the budget any other way.
Other commentators have pointed out that another fiscal cliff looms later in March when Congress will again be asked to raise the U.S. borrowing limit.
Congress passed a temporary measure Jan. 1 to avoid the country running out of money. But the measure only delayed the resolution of the problem until March 27.
If there is no accord, instead of furloughs of employees entire U.S. government departments might shut down.
For expats in Costa Rica, again, the impact is unclear, but certainly there might be delays in Social Security and federal pension payments. And there is the prospect of the federal budget squeeze affecting the already struggling tourism industry.