With no progress in Washington to avoid looming spending cuts, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned lawmakers that inaction would sharply slow U.S. economic growth.
"Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run," said Bernanke.
Despite the high stakes, the action from Washington has been mostly - finger pointing.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner says it's time for the president and the Democratically controlled Senate to take the lead.
"The House has acted twice. We shouldn't have to act a third time before the Senate begins to do their work," said Boehner.
The automatic spending cuts, roughly three percent of the federal budget, would slash defense spending and affect government services from border security to meat inspections.
The White House wants a more balanced approach that includes cuts and higher taxes.
But as it stands, President Barack Obama calls the sequester arbitrary and irresponsible.
"These cuts do not have to happen," said President Obama. "Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little bit of compromise.'
1.looming adj. 隐隐约约的；正在逼近的
This year, one of the military junta’s first pronouncements was on the looming food crisis.
2.inaction n. 不活动；迟钝
There are serious consequences to Japanese inaction.
3.arbitrary adj. [数] 任意的；武断的；专制的
The customer should be driven by business need, not arbitrary pressure from above.