Because Congress failed to agree on the mixture of lower spending and higher taxes to hit that figure, a mechanism in the debt ceiling-raising legislation causes automatic spending decreases to hit the $1.2 trillion figure: about $109 billion in lower government spending every year for the next decade.
The report itself comes about a week after the statutory deadline from the Sequestration Transparency Act, one of the last pieces of legislation Congress passed before adjourning for its August break. That legislation ordered the administration to create a report detailing the outlines of the sequester.
Overall, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget outlined the $109 billion in spending cuts for 2013 as follows:
• Hits to defense programs of either 9.4 percent or 10 percent, depending on how they receive their appropriations from Congress ($55 billion).
• Payments to Medicare providers will be reduced by 2 percent ($11 billion).
• Cuts to non-defense spending (like elementary and secondary education or rehabilitation services and disability research) will be cut at either 8.2 percent or 7.6 percent (totaling $43 billion).
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of which budget lines see what reductions, the document does not carry the down-the-middle, dispassionate tone presented by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, say, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.