If America falls off the fiscal cliff, there’s going to be a hell to pay, and fewer workers to pay too.
Around 277,000 public sector workers will be laid off if Congress doesn’t take action to avoid a series of spending cuts related to the country's “fiscal cliff,” a measure to bring down the deficit that includes both tax hikes and reductions in spending, according to a report by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. As of now, $1.2 trillion worth of spending cuts will begin to take effect on January 2, 2013, and continue over the course of a decade, resulting in a projected 14 percent reduction in the government workforce.
Many government departments, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Federal Aviation Administration, will be affected.
"What that means is some airports won't be able to land as many planes, because FAA controllers won't be in the towers," Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis, told CNNMoney. "FBI agents won't be on the ground investigating and meat inspectors won't be inspecting."
The report also finds that the fiscal cliff could reduce the country’s GDP by $215 billion and reduce personal earnings by $109.4 billion.
Such reports of the fiscal cliff's negative effects are nothing new, however. A recent Senate report found three critical education programs will lose $2.7 billion over ten years because of the cuts.
Those effects of such cuts will likely prove enormous. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the U.S. economy will enter a recession next year if the fiscal cliff is not avoided.
Utilities Shut Off Over Unpaid Traffic Fines
Faced with a declining budget, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico told residents that unless they settled outstanding traffic fines their gas, water and sewage utilities would be turned off.
Swimming Pools Closed
In 2011, cities around the country <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/31/city-budget-cuts-summer_n_869202.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">suspended summer activities for kids</a> including closing public swimming pools and eliminating library reading programs.
Circumcision Funding Cut
Due to cash-strapped hospital budgets, the state of Colorado in 2011 decided to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/circumcision-budget_n_883743.html" target="_hplink">no longer fund circumcision</a>. The measure will save an estimated $186,500 annually.
Dark Fourth Of July Skies
City budgets were stretched so thin in 2011 that many towns could <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/03/fireworks-budget-cuts-american-fourth-of-july_n_888845.html" target="_hplink">no longer afford to pay for July Fourth fireworks displays</a>. However, some towns came up with alternative ways to fund the traditional displays.
Volunteer Prison Chaplains
The state of North Carolina was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/prison-chaplains-budget-cuts_n_921605.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">forced to rely on volunteers to provide religious services to inmates</a> after laying off prison chaplains.
Teachers Take Extra Time Off
In Seattle, teachers agreed to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/seattle-teachers-take-fir_n_923790.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">take an extra day and a half off</a> to ease budget concerns in 2011.
Arizona State Capitol Sold
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/jan-brewer-arizona-democrats-capitol-complex_n_1202636.html" target="_hplink">Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sold the state capitol in 2009</a> to bring in some extra cash. In January 2012, she announced plans to buy the complex back.
Marching Band Uniforms Go Casual
The high school marching band in North Bend, Oregon changed its uniforms to T-Shirts, jeans and knit caps <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/north-bend-high-school-ba_n_1023851.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">after the school couldn't afford to replace the more formal ensembles</a>.
Police Stop Responding To 911 Calls
In Smithfield, North Carolina the chief of police told residents that unless he was allowed to spend $30,000 that was originally meant for office supplies on gas money, the town's police force would no longer be able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/smithfield-north-carolina-police-gas-money_n_1069470.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">respond to some 911 calls</a>.
Tearing Up Streetlamps
In 2011, Highland Park, Michigan announced it would be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/highland-park-sreetlights_n_1079909.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">removing streetlights to help save on energy costs</a>.
Homeless Lose Access To Restrooms
In Sacramento, California a $200 million deficit led the city to install locks on public bathrooms <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/sacramento-united-nations-warning-homeless_n_1268946.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">cutting homeless people's access to water and restrooms overnight</a>.
Baltimore Sells Historic Buildings
Due to a $48 million budget gap, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/baltimore-historic-landmarks-revenue_n_1389222.html?ref=business" target="_hplink">Baltimore government announced plans to sell historic buildings</a> including the home of a 19th century U.S. Senator.