Sequestration has begun: $85 billion in federal spending cuts, divided evenly between defense and domestic discretionary spending. U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) says this is a bad way to cut spending. “We think this is clearly budgetary insanity. It could deal a big blow to the economy of our region and lead to job losses,” she said. Illinois has 49,000 civilian federal workers, 14,000 for the Department of Defense, which will be affected, as will air traffic controllers, FBI agents and federal programs, as will defense contractors and other establishments that do business with the government.
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Bustos says the Rock Island Arsenal will lose $200 million from the automatic cuts, as civilian employees are forced to take an unpaid day off each week. The cuts will be phased in in the coming weeks. The VA, Social Security and Medicare are not affected. If the sequestration runs its course, it’ll total $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Congress and the president agreed to this sequester in 2011, with the expectation that the cuts would be considered sufficiently drastic as to produce a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement including spending cuts and tax increases.