As Sequester Nears, Workers Brace for Furloughs

Unions, agencies scrambling to work out details ahead of Friday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2013 12:14 PM CST
As Sequester Nears, Workers Brace for Furloughs
A July 2011 photo of House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

At this point, it's all but certain that no last-minute deal will emerge by Friday to avoid the sequester and the automatic spending cuts of $85 billion that go along with it, reports the Wall Street Journal. And while some think the doomsday scenarios are being overblown, try telling that to the federal workers facing days or weeks of lost pay, their unions trying to soften the blow, and their bosses trying to sort through the logistical nightmare of it all, reports the Washington Post. “We’ve never been through a sequester before,” says the president of the National Treasury Employees Union. “There aren’t any rules.” (Well, there are some rules: The first furloughs would not take effect until April 1 because workers get 30 days' notice, notes the Post.)

Politico, meanwhile, points out that cutbacks at the IRS might result in slower refund checks and fewer tax cheats getting caught. As the wire services weigh in on the consequences, President Obama used his weekly radio address to talk about how the cuts might hurt military readiness and mess up air travel, and he reiterated his call for Republicans to compromise on a mix of spending cuts and new tax revenues, reports the Hill. (Although Bob Woodward writes that the president is "moving the goal posts" because he agreed to no new taxes when he made the sequester deal in 2011.)

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