The sequestration talks are taking place just a few miles away and if it occurs, its effects will be felt in the Gaithersburg area, the rest of the Greater Washington area and the state, local politicians say.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, in an appearance in Howard County Wednesday, said that 12,000 jobs in Maryland could be lost due to sequestration.
To put that number in perspective, the governor said approximately 30,000 jobs were created in the state last year.
“All of the great work that each of you does here is threatened by the uncertainty of the dysfunction in the halls of our House of Representatives,” said O’Malley.
If Congress can’t reach a compromise on the approximately $84 billion in automatic cuts before Friday, they will go into effect. The cuts will reduce spending in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, the military and law enforcement, the White House said.
The governor said the public is losing patience with the repeated economic crises being reported from Capitol Hill and the White House.
“We need to get out of this vortex. The election is over,” O’Malley said.
A White House report said sequestration in Maryland could mean furloughs for 46,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, reducing gross pay by around $353.7 million. It would also include funding cuts to teachers and schools, work-study jobs on college campuses, Head Start programs and environmental funding.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin wrote in a recent blog that “sequestration will result in a meat ax approach to reducing our deficit.”
The nation has been through this drill before. The sequester was set to begin on Jan. 1, 2013, if lawmakers weren’t able to reduce the budget deficit. That deadline, called the "fiscal cliff," came and went, and sequestration was postponed for two months.
The mandated federal spending cuts will not include cuts to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and checks will continue to go out, but the Social Security Administration will likely have to furlough workers, meaning processing delays in claims and longer wait times for service.
The Baltimore Sun reports the cuts would leave people who call the agency's hotline on hold for 10 minutes and delay some disability decisions by a month.
For more Patch coverage of the sequestration's effects in your local area and around Maryland: