All You Need to Know About Sequestration But Were Afraid to Ask

You changed the channel, you clicked away from the headlines, and you tried to ignore it. But the sequester can no longer be avoided. On March 1, the latest dysfunctional deadlock in Washington will trigger $85 billion in automatic cuts to federal spending over the next seven months, a reduction of about 2.4%. Pretty much anyone in any position of authority— Democrat or Republican— agreed this was a terrible idea when the law was written in 2011. Forecasters say the cut, if fully enacted, would slow U.S. economic growth by half a percentage point this year. But elected leaders are not yet ready to strike a compromise to replace the cuts. So it’s time to pay attention. Here’s seven frequently asked questions TIME answers.

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