WASHINGTON (CBS) - Sequestration; it's a big Washington, DC word that means the government is preparing to cut $1.2 trillion from the American budget starting March 1. But the cuts are already hitting the military.
The USS Truman was scheduled to pull out of Norfolk, Virginia tomorrow to head to the Persian Gulf. But Wednesday afternoon, word came that the Truman will stay in port, in order to save money. Airman Carly Grice with the U.S. Navy says, "Playing the waiting game, pretty much. It's not very nice not knowing when we're pulling out."
The Pentagon is cutting us aircraft carriers presence overseas ahead of $55 billion in budget cuts that kick in March 1.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Congress' inability to find a way to avoid the cuts has endangered America's security. He says, "These steps would seriously damage the fragile American economy and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe."
The idea behind sequestration was that the budget cuts were supposed to be so objectionable here on Capitol Hill that Congress would agree on alternatives. That's proven to be easier said than done. Rep. John Boehner says, "I fought to not have the sequester in the first place. But the president didn't want to have to deal with the debt limit again before his re-election."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says, "They pass budgets that are wholly objectionable to most Americans. They didn't become law, because of that, because they don't have the support of the American people."
If Washington can't agree on a plan, some economists say up to one million people could lose their jobs.
Secretary Panetta says the DOD is preparing to furlough as many as 800,000 civilian workers and another 46,000 face losing their jobs altogether as a result of the cuts to the military.