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Sequester in effect: How badly will Minnesota be hurt by federal cuts?

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President Barack Obama formally signed Friday an order that put the government's sequester into effect, The Associated Press reports.

An obscure process, the sequester, or "sequestration," will result in $85 billion in federal budget cuts, which will force U.S. spending to shrink, the New York Times reports. The Times examines how the mechanics of the drastic across-the-board cuts work.

Those cuts will hurt states. But how badly?

Lots of federal programs operating in Minnesota will lose money. The White House released a seven-page report outlining the specific cuts in Minnesota. The Pioneer Press this week examined some of the Minnesota programs that will be cut.

A sampling: Fewer low-income students will receive college financial aid, hundreds of young children will not get Head Start services, and other disadvantaged children will lose child care.

But the cuts will not derail Minnesota's economy, state economist Tom Stinson said, MPR reports. If the sequester lasts a year, Stinson forecasts that Minnesota's job growth would decline by no more than 5,000 jobs in 2013, he tells MPR.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., seems to agree. "I don't think it's going to be anywhere near what people are talking about," he said.

MPR reports on the reactions of Minnesota lawmakers in Congress.

What the lawmakers in both parties agree on is that the cuts are a blunt way to approach federal spending reductions that ought to be handled with more delicate care.

"All sequestration did was kick the can down the road and make matters worse," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a Gannett News story. "Programs are going to be cut that shouldn't be cut."

One of the reasons that the sequester was even scheduled back in 2011 was to create a scary deadline that would force congressional leaders to come up with smarter budget trims. But that didn't happen.

"All of us, I think on both sides of the aisle, agree that the way the cuts are taken is not good," Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., told MPR.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., told the Mankato Free Press, “This is a horrible way to do the country’s business."

The nation has tried sequestration five times before, most recently in 1991, Marketplace reported.

Lawmakers, pundits and the public have decried what has become a cycle of fiscal crises in Washington. Another one is coming soon: Obama has summoned congressional leaders to the White House in advance of a potential government shutdown in four weeks, the Associated Press reports.

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