Sequestration could mean across-the-board pain

With no agreement between the president and Congress looming on a budget deal, the FBI says the cuts would require all employees, including special agents, to be furloughed for up to 14 days.
CBS News

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The entire economy is headed for trouble in just eight days -- when massive across-the-board cuts in the federal budget are scheduled to kick in automatically. The cuts were designed to be so deep and harmful, that they would force the president and Congress to find a better way. But they haven't. Just for example, there would be $46 billion cut from the Defense Department and benefit cuts for 4.7 million long-term unemployed.

The FBI says the budget cuts would require all employees, including special agents, to be furloughed for up to 14 days.

Referring to the FBI's top managers, Jan Fedarcyk, the former head of the New York field office of the agency, said: "I'm sure they are most worried about, 'What does this mean in the national security arena?' That's probably at the top of the list, a discussion about maintaining our counter-terrorism operations."

Watch CBS News correspondent David Martin's report on the impact the sequester cuts could have on those who work for the Department of Defense:

Most of the cuts would not take effect immediately on March 1 -- they would be phased in slowly over several months. And they could be avoided if Congress and the president could agree to a deal. But if they can't, the cuts will be painful.

Thousands of security screeners at the nation's airports would also be furloughed. Wait times at the busiest airports could increase by up to an hour.

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About 70,000 children would be dropped from Head Start.

About 600,000 women and young children would be cut from a major nutrition program.

Millions of the nation's long-term unemployed would lose an average of more than $400 in benefits.

On the health front, the FDA says furloughs would result in 2,100 fewer inspections of food plants, increasing the risk of food-borne illness. And medical research could be cut by $1.6 billion, slowing progress in the fight against disease, including cancer and Alzheimer's.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would largely be spared. But critics of the whole process say that is a fundamental flaw because entitlement programs are a major driver of the national debt.

  • Chip-Reid_bio_140x100_bw.jpg
    Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.