The Sequester Explained in Plain English

Includes video and charts

Well, it’s official:

The U.S. has entered the dreaded sequester, a very costly consequence of the federal government failing to reach a budget deal by their self-imposed deadline (March 1). This is one for the history books –  the largest, automatic across the board spending cuts in American history.

But if this latest government crisis hasn’t been keeping you up at night, you’re certainly not alone. A recent study found that the vast majority of Americans have paid little to no attention as the sequester drew near; many dismissed it as a poorly made sequel to last year’s more compelling fiscal cliff thriller (along the lines of the The Hangover Part II, if you will).

But despite the lack of popular interest, the sequester is actually a pretty big deal – and real pain will be felt. While it won’t lead to across the board tax hikes – as the fiscal cliff threatened to do – it will result in sweeping cuts to government services that millions of Americans rely on.

In the days leading up to the deadline, Obama referred to the sequester as “a meat cleaver approach” to reducing the deficit, making dire warnings about the damage it would inflict on the economy and individual states.

“Across the board spending cuts mean that hundreds of thousands of Americans won’t get services they rely on from the government,” he said.

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