Sequester is coming. Is it that bad?

APPLETON — It appears a federal deal won't be reached in time to avoid $85 billion in across the board spending cuts.

Thursday senators struck down two bills to deal with the sequester.

Republicans backed a proposal which would have allowed President Obama to propose a package of alternative cuts.

Democrats then offered a bill which would have replaced the sequester with a combination of higher taxes and cuts to defense and farm programs.

Republicans say any delay would hurt the economy.

But just how big of an impact will the sequester really have?

Click here to see how the White House says the sequester will impact Wisconsin Infographic: What is sequestration?

The cuts amount to a relatively small percentage of projected spending.

President Obama says the sequestration cuts will damage the economy. Republicans blame the president for not being willing to compromise. But neither side is talking about the relatively small size of the pending sequestration cuts.

"Some Republicans have pointed out that the cuts are actually going to bring the budget down to more like it was during when George W. Bush was president, so it's not like we're cutting down to the bone," said Lawrence University political science professor Arnold Shober.  

"$85 billion is not trivial, in a $15 trillion economy it's not huge, but it's not trivial either," said Lawrence University economics professor Merton Finkler.

The cuts amount to just more than 2% of the $3.6 trillion the government is expected to spend by September.

Governor Scott Walker, speaking on "FOX News Sunday" says many states are still in the dark about what the cuts will be.

"All of us as governors have a real concern about what the impact of the cuts are going to be on our respective states, both in terms of the cuts if they do nothing, but also in terms of what some of the alternatives might be."

Joe Zepecki with the citizen's advocacy group "The Action" says the cuts will have dire consequences in Wisconsin.

"When you take it down to the local level we are talking about $98 million here in Wisconsin and that covers everything from Head Start to public safety."

Zepecki is using numbers by a study by the Center for American Progress.

Finkler says focusing on sequestration is shortsighted.

"The problem is mostly a long-term problem not a short-term problem, not what we do over the next year or two, but what we do over the next 20 or 30 years."

Still Shober says neither side wants to concede what could be considered a political victory.

"There will be delays, there will be furloughs probably for the federal government but a lot of it is political theater as well."

And it seems likely the next act in this political game starts Friday.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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