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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
In late November, an American congressional committee failed to agree how to cut the federal budget deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars over ten years. The co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction said "we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline." The twelve-member committee was created under the Budget Control Act of twenty-eleven. The group was equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The goal was to find acceptable ways to cut federal deficits. Now, without an agreement, that will fall to involuntary cuts through the act of sequestration.
The budgetary terms "sequester" and "sequestration" mean that the Treasury Department will withhold or cancel a set amount of spending. By law, equal cuts in both civilian and military spending will begin in twenty-thirteen. A total of 1.2 trillion dollars needs to be cut. This is in addition to cuts of about nine hundred billion dollars required by the budget law that created the congressional supercommittee.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned the combination of cuts could hurt his department. "If the sequester goes into effect and it doubles the number of cuts, then it will truly devastate our national defense." This has made some lawmakers feel uneasy. Representative Howard McKeon of California opposes new cuts in military spending. "National defense has contributed enough to deficit reduction." Many lawmakers are concerned that, with elections next year, programs important to voters in their areas will be cut. That would add to increasing voter anger over what they consider a lack of action by lawmakers. President Obama has warned Congress that he will block any efforts to cancel the spending cuts. "Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts." Experts say that Congress and the Obama administration could still reach agreement on budget cuts and taxes before the sequestration takes effect.