By the Numbers: Automatic spending cuts

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  • Approximately $16.5 trillion - The United States national debt
  • $1.2 trillion - Total amount of the potential cuts, over 10 years
  • $85 billion - Deficit reduction needed to postpone cuts through September 2013
  • 2% - Cuts to Medicare if "sequestration" takes effect

While a growing chorus in Washington, including President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, multiple Cabinet secretaries, and some political pundits, criticize deep, automatic spending cuts set to take effect on March 1, the White House and Congress have yet to come up with an alternative to avoid them.

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With the imposition of at least some of them appearing more and more likely, here's a look, by the numbers, at Washington's self-imposed budget austerity (aka "sequestration" or the "sequester"):

The real impact of automatic cuts and why they may happen after all

2 - Provisions in the Budget Act of 2011 that can result in automatic spending cuts: Appropriating funds over newly established spending caps for years 2012-2021, where the extra amount is automatically cut, and failure of Congress to enact specific deficit-reduction legislation, which has happened.

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$1.2 trillion - Total amount of the potential sequestration cuts, over 10 years. This is based on the amount not cut from the deficit by the congressional "super committee" created by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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$85 billion - Amount of deficit reduction necessary for fiscal year 2013 in order to postpone the automatic spending cuts from taking effect March 1.

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Approximately $16.5 trillion - The United States national debt.

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9.4% - Reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding if sequestration takes effect.

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By the numbers: Recent defense spending

8.2% - Reduction in non-exempt nondefense discretionary funding if sequestration takes effect.

2% - Cuts to Medicare if sequestration takes effect.

7.6% - Cuts to other non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs if sequestration takes effect.

10% - Cuts to non-exempt defense mandatory programs if sequestration takes effect.

10 - Number of days after the end of a session of Congress during which the Congressional Budget Office must submit a sequestration report on the current fiscal year.

About $130 million - Amount of lost funding if sequestration takes effect from the Department of the Interior to Native American tribes.

About 1,200 - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace inspections that would be cut.

Up to $902 million - Reductions in loan guarantees to small businesses if sequestration takes effect.

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Up to 766,000 - Number of health care-related jobs that could be lost or eliminated due to 2% cuts in Medicare spending under sequestration, according to a recent report from the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association.

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    • WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama concentrated his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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