Budget Cut Warnings May Prove Harsher Than Reality

WASHINGTON (February 16, 2013)—Warnings about the loss of crucial government services will likely intensify over the next two weeks about looming across-the-board budget cuts, but not all of them would necessarily prove true.

President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans made no progress last week in heading off $85 billion in budget-wide cuts that automatically start taking effect March 1.

Lacking a bipartisan deal to avoid them, the administration has been offering stark details about the consequences including trimmed defense contracts, less secure U.S. embassies, and furloughed air traffic controllers.

Past administrations have played up how budget standoffs would wither federal programs the public values.

When a budget fight caused two government shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, some threats came true, such as padlocked national parks.

Others, such as the end of feeding programs for the elderly, stayed afloat.

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