How Federal budget cuts could affect you
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - If Congress doesn't act by March First - 85 billion dollars in federal spending cuts automatically go into effect.
So how will this affect you?
The budget cuts could mean fewer TSA agents and air traffic controllers - creating longer lines at airport security and heavier backups at takeoff.
And start planning for longer waits at border ports -- the reductions could seriously roll back border security -- something Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says would be "destructive to our nation's security and to our economy."
Southern Arizona will take a big hit if the sequester kicks in even if you don't depend on a federal program, or a federal paycheck, your business may depend on the money that comes from those paychecks.
Airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines are not the only workers who keep the military flying and fighting.
Matt Sherman is a civilian employee works at Davis-Monthan and leader of a civilian employee union there. He says about 28 hundred civilian employees at that base alone fear furloughs that would cut their pay 20 percent.
He says, "I'm barely making it now. I don't see how I'm going to make it with 20 percent less."
Congressman Ron Barber pulled together people to outline how Federal cuts would affect them, you, and Arizona.
For the first year alone: They'd cut millions from education, Police, Fire, Transportation, Parks, Housing
The Community Food Bank expects more demand as the sequester's ripple effect costs jobs.
In health care the sequester's two percent cut in Medicare could make make it tough for patients at health centers like Da Vita Dialysis to cover their costs.
For Charles Parker, the impasse in Congress has been frustrating. Now it's life threatening.
"If I didn't have the services, I'd die as would almost everybody else in here," he says.
He says if Medicare cuts back, it would be a burden to deep deeper into his pocket for the life saving treatment.
Malecio Mercado has a lot of the same concerns.
"There's no way I can actually pay the money that goes from Medicare into dialysis."
Congressman Barber says if Congressional leaders hadn't forced a recess, he'd be in DC right now urging colleagues to compromise their way out of the crisis.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked him: "Why do you think we've reached such a point of brinksmanship where crises are created as a way to try to force some action?"
Rep. Barber: "You're right about crisis being created. Some of these issues we're talking about today really are manufactured."
We asked Charles Parker what he might say to Congress and the President.
He says, "I'm not sure it would be acceptable for your TV cameras, sir. I'm pretty upset about it."
There's a lot of concern about how forced furloughs will leave Border Patrol short staffed, and leave ports of entry so short of customs inspectors that it'll choke off billions of dollars business from legal cargo moving in from Mexico.
Congressman barber says he and the rest of Congress are headed back to DC to go back in session on Monday. He's still holding out hope reason will prevail, they'll prevent across the board cuts, and work on a more focused, less disastrous way to balance the budget.