<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Paula Dwyer</p> <p>The Obama administration left no doubt today that it views the $109 billion federal spending cuts it must make in January with great disdain. Its 394-page sequestration<a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/stareport.pdf"> report, </a>delivered to Congress less than two months before the election, says the 10-year, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts required under last year's deficit-reduction law will have a "devastating impact" on everything from education to research.</p> <p>The $109 billion must be split between defense and domestic discretionary programs. The act protects Medicare by limiting its cuts to 2 percent, or $11 billion. That means other domestic programs must take about an 8 percent chop.</p> <p>The White House budget office says the result will be fewer food-safety inspections and air-traffic controllers, smaller classrooms and less biomedical research. It also means the Pentagon must delay fixing worn-out equipment and juggle its accounts to keep up war-readiness capabilities.</p> <p>The administration says Republicans are putting national security at risk in order to preserve Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans respond by saying it was President Barack Obama who insisted on including the Pentagon.</p> <p>In shielding Medicare, the domestic cuts had to be deeper. The federal courts will lose $384 million. Nutrition programs for women, infants and children will be trimmed by $543 million. Low-income households will get $285 million less in heating assistance this winter. The National Institutes of Health loses $2.5 billion. Customs and Border Patrol must yield $712 million. The National Parks System gets a $183 million whack. Even U.S. embassy security and construction takes a $129 million hit. Bad timing, that.</p> <p>The automatic across-the-board cuts would come each year through 2021. They are a punitive step lawmakers imposed upon themselves after failing to negotiate a deal to cut the deficit.</p> <p>The spending chops are distasteful enough that voters may complain, possibly leading Congress to find a way around the sequestration in the lame-duck session after Nov. 6.  A grand bargain on the fiscal cliff that supplants the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade is possible. My money is on a simple postponement until the new Congress is sworn in.</p> <p>(Paula Dwyer is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.<a title="Twitter link" href="https://twitter.com/paulaEdwyer"> Follow</a> her on Twitter.)</p> </body> </html>