NY Times Goes Nationwide in Quest for Sequestration Horror Stories: 'Less Beef Jerky'

The New York Times sent reporters scurrying around the country to deliver Tuesday's dire dose of  sequestration fear -- a full page (with photos) of impending cuts to a range of federal programs starting Friday. Lead reporter Michael Cooper set the groaning board:

The owner of a Missouri smokehouse that makes beef jerky is worried about a slowdown in food safety inspections. A Montana school district is drawing up a list of teachers who could face layoffs. Officials at an Arizona border station fear that lines to cross the border could lengthen. And if Olympic National Park in Washington cannot hire enough workers to plow backcountry trails, they may stay closed until the snow melts in July.

With some $85 billion in spending cuts -- known as sequestration -- set to begin at the end of the week, officials in Washington were blaming one another. In the rest of the country, local officials, business owners and people who rely on government services were trying to fathom what it would mean for them.

Reporter Fernanda Santos reported from Arizona: "At Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, the first casualty of the federal government’s spending cuts might seem frivolous: its biennial air show. But it is a vastly popular spectacle that doubles as an open house for the base, which is about 15 miles west of the center of Phoenix. Some 250,000 people watched it in 2011, gawking from inside and outside the base as fighter jets made impossible maneuvers in the sky. The show was scheduled for mid-March."

Julia Preston, also in Arizona: "With the federal spending cuts, waiting times at the border in Nogales could grow to as long as five hours during the day, 'functionally closing those ports during core hours,' said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary."

Another headline, from Missouri, brought still more tragedy: "FEWER MEAT INSPECTORS, LESS BEEF JERKY."

In the above chart, economist Veronique de Rugy at George Mason University took a less hysterical view of what the sequester truly means to the federal budget (larger link here).