Federal spending cuts set to kick in this week would have far-reaching consequences in the Carolinas. That was the message Monday from White House officials warning about the state-by-state impact of the sequester.
In North and South Carolina, about 33,000 Defense Department employees would be furloughed, about 5,000 fewer children would have access to vaccines, and about 520 teachers would lose funding for their jobs.
Those are just a few takeaways from the White House report on the sequester, the automatic spending cuts that start Friday if the president and Congress can't reach a deal.
"The sequester was never intended to be policy," said Amy Brundage, White House Deputy Press Secretary. "These cuts were actually intended to act as a forcing mechanism to ensure that Congress acted in a balanced way on deficit reduction."
The sequester was part of a deal between President Obama and Congress to raise the federal debt limit two summers ago. The idea was that Democrats and Republicans would come up with a better option before it kicked in.
But now it's only days away. Jason Furman is with the White House's National Economic Council.
"Nationwide hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost," Furman said.
As one example in the Carolinas, the White House report says almost 1,200 fewer students would get work-study jobs.
But some conservative economists don't think the sequester is such a bad idea.
"Look, the federal government needs to be cut," said Roy Cordato, vice president for research at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank in North Carolina.
Cordato said the sequester doesn't go far enough.
"It doesn't touch entitlements, which is the big thing - Medicare and Social Security," he said.
And those two programs will account for more than 40 percent of total federal spending in the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.