No deal.

President Obama said Friday Congressional leaders had failed to reach a compromise to avoid a sweeping set of spending cuts ready to hit the U.S. government by the end of the day.

“We shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts,” Obama said following Friday’s meeting.

While officials typically say the cuts this year add up to $85 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates actual spending will only fall by $44 billion this year. The $85 billion figure refers to “budget authority” — or what the government can allocate this year, but actually spend over several years.  Even using the $85 billion figure, the cuts amount to just more than 2 percent of the total federal budget.

The cuts will slice into the military and other programs.

Ideological clashes have both sides locking horns in the debate. Conservatives say Obama is more interested in raising taxes on the rich than in cutting spending. Obama says Republicans only want to dent the deficit by cutting middle-class programs.

Democrats have painted a Doomsday portrait with the sequester. Republicans say it won’t be so bad.

Here’s how the effects of the 2013 sequestration could affect you in the next few months:

March 1 into the Weekend

Obama has until midnight Friday to formally notify government agencies that sequestration is in effect.

Sometime today the Office of Management and Budget will order all federal agencies to cut their budgets by around nine percent, except for the Pentagon which needs to cut defense programs by 13 percent.

Once Obama issues the sequestration order, Treasury Department officials will take offline the computers that process payments for school construction and clean energy bonds to reprogram them for reduced rates. Payments will be delayed while they are made manually for the next six weeks.

Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency will get e-mails notifying them that a forced furlough of up to 13 days lies ahead

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials will spend the weekend mailing out letters to governors in all 50 states showing how much their grants will be reduced in the coming days and weeks.

Programs that dole out funding as an intermediary — like public rent assistance, farm loans and food programs — will see immediate cuts.

The Rest of March

Forced furloughs will not happen in most cases for 30 or 60 days, after government managers have concluded negotiations with the unions that represent workers.

Many of the furlough notices could start going out on Monday, March 4 –  and most of employees who will be furloughed are likely to get furlough notices sometime during the month.

Once formal furlough notices are sent, many agencies will have to begin the process of bargaining with labor unions representing employees over their specific terms.

Major defense contractors are likely to go public with their own layoff notices in March.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters on Feb. 27 that teacher layoffs, changes to after-school programs and slicing off days for the 2013-14 school year also will start happening in March.

The Agriculture Department’s programs for the poor also will see cuts in March, including the Women, Infants and Children program, which must cut its rolls by about 300,000 participants. Case workers will begin placing some who apply on a wait list, particularly those who are homeless or are non-breastfeeding mothers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the budget cuts to its at-sea observers and fishery stock assessments could impede the opening of commercial fishing seasons in federal waters. Among the most high profile species: halibut season in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, which is scheduled to begin March 23.

April and Beyond

On April 1 furlough notices could start turning into reality.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says airport shutdowns and flight cancellations are expected to start in early April.

April is the earliest that USDA meat inspectors could begin their furloughs. And without inspectors, meat processing factories would be forced to close.

Unemployment checks will drop as early as April for the long-term unemployed who receive the federal benefit checks.

America’s national parks will be in jeopardy of not opening and delivering the same level of services that visitors have grown accustomed to. For example, the budget cuts mean delays for snow removal at iconic Yellowstone National Park, which typically opens its roads and lodges in late April and early May.

States eventually will have to decide how to cut programs for low-income or vulnerable people that are funded through federal grants, such as child-care assistance, nutrition programs for women and children, mental-health services, and meal programs for senior citizens.

May 1 may bring more angry fishermen. That’s the start of the commercial groundfish season in New England. And that’s followed by the start of red snapper season June 1 in the Gulf of Mexico.

By July, August, and September, the impact of sequestration should be fully felt.


Been watching and waiting…

The Garden is coming up nicely and I stocked up my freezer a bit this week …

Hope all of you have been paying attention!!

Salty …