Sequester, the implementation of automatic federal spending cuts to both domestic and defense programs, is set to take effect Friday, March 1, unless Congress acts.
We've been here many times before, in a political game of fiscal chicken that usually ends with some sort of uneasy compromise before the worst-case scenario fully kicks in.
Will that happen this time? My Congressional crystal ball is so shattered I am not venturing any prediction.
But this time there's a new player in the game. Actually, there are 51 new players: the 50 states and the District of Columbia. And the state leaders are bracing for sequestration effects.
Meeting amid the mess: The nation's governors had no way of knowing when they scheduled this year's National Governors Association annual meeting in D.C. that they would be in the midst of a national fiscal fight.
But the coincidental convergence of their gathering this weekend (they wrap up meetings today) and the impending federal cuts has now become a weapon in the battle.
Many governors say that just the threat of cuts has already damaged their economies. What will happen if the cuts go through? The states that are beginning to recover from the recession would likely lose most if not all the ground they're regained.
Jack Markell, Democratic governor of Delaware and chairman of the National Governors Association, told Fox News Sunday that sequestration would have "a real big impact on the economy and jobs."
How big? The White House did the math for Delaware and the rest of the country and has issued a fact sheet for each jurisdiction showing how the projected effects would affect each:
Comparing sequestration effects: While it's instructive to see what the Obama Administration says will be threatened, such as defense-related jobs and education programs, in each state -- your state -- if the cuts go through, it's also fun to see if your state would come though more or less scathed than others.
So that you don't have to reach each of the 51 sequestration fact sheets, the Washington Post has taken the data and put it into easy-to-read and sortable tables.
You can look at how the states compare as to the effect of impending cuts on teachers and schools; work-study jobs; Head Start; job-search assistance; military readiness; law enforcement; child care; vaccines for children; public health; nutrition assistance for seniors; STOP Violence Against Women Program; and clean air and water.
Have fun. Check out your neighboring states' data. Evaluate the numbers.
And let your lawmakers know whether you're OK with your state losing that much money and jobs in certain areas or whether you want the spending cuts stopped in the next five days.You also might find these items of interest: