Sequestration is a group of cuts to federal spending which took effect March 1, 2013. Sequestration was originally passed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), better known as the debt ceiling compromise. It was intended to serve as incentive for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Supercommittee”) to come to a deal to cut $1.5 trillion over 10 years. If the committee had done so, and Congress had passed it by Dec. 23, 2011, then the sequester would have been averted. Obviously, that didn’t happen. The Budget Control Act originally stipulated that the sequester cuts would take effect at the beginning of 2013. A deal was reached to avert the cliff, in which the sequester was delayed to March 1. February 28th came and went without any modification bill being negotiated in Congress. The sequester automatic cuts took effect March 1, 2013.
Obama's Not So Grand Offer.
His budget details show how little reform he is really proposing. The President's actual proposals show he's more interested in posing as a budget reformer than reforming the budget.

Amid the sequester noncrisis, President Obama is attempting to revive political appetites for a grand budget bargain—and this time he's even calling Republicans on the phone and asking for support. Maybe he's finding that berating them in public as moral cretins doesn't inspire trust. That's progress, but what hasn't changed is that the deal he's offering as fair and "balanced" is neither grand nor a bargain.

If trimming $930 billion from the $46 trillion 10-year budget sounds less than impressive when Washington is running an annual $845 billion deficit despite a 17% surge in revenue this year, the details are even less of a concession.

• Health care, $400 billion. To put $400 billion in perspective, Medicare's long-term "unfunded liability"—the gap between promised benefits and the program's ability to fund them—is roughly $42.7 trillion. Mr. Obama's definition of reform is different. Medicare would continue its current march into insolvency, but at a slightly slower pace: some nips and tucks, but nothing approaching the larger modernization that the health safety net needs to survive.

• Social Security, $130 billion. there is broad bipartisan agreement about changing the consumer price index slightly to more accurately measure real inflation in the economy. Known as "chain weighted" CPI, this index reflects how consumers change their purchasing habits when prices change. But Mr. Obama can't bring himself to support it, while pretending that he does.

• Discretionary programs, $200 billion. Half would come from unspecified savings from the domestic accounts. These are the same programs that Mr. Obama also says are so lean that the sequester is forcing him to furlough meat inspectors and White House tour guides.

• Odds and ends, $200 billion.Here Mr. Obama continues his approach of taking a bit of money out of this and that pot, instead of prioritizing. He won't end a single program.

If Mr. Obama is serious about a grand bargain, he'll offer more than notional entitlement reforms and a grab bag of things his Administration ought to be doing anyway. There's no harm in Republicans listening, but his actual proposals show he's more interested in posing as a budget reformer than reforming the budget.

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from The Wall Street Journal,

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