The bickering in Washington over how to balance the budget along with a March 1st deadline looming is once again leading the country to harsh cuts that millions of Americans will feel starting at the supermarket, but it doesn't end there.
Meat is a basic food necessity that most Americans buy. And it's gotten more and more expensive over the last two years.
But next time you go to the supermarket you may notice you're getting even less bang for you buck if Congress doesn't come to an agreement on the current stand off between Republicans and Democrats. On the table, a $51 million cut to food safety programs which means furloughed inspectors and meat and poultry plants shutting down for up to fifteen days. This means supply goes down and prices go up.
"Customers tend to spend less and they really watch what they buy. Sometimes they buy a smaller portion and sometimes they just don't buy," said Alex Rey, a butcher at Food Giant. "Looks like it's not fixing to come down. It keeps on going up and that's kind of scary," said Rey.
The USDA says their hands are tied. Tom Vilsack, Vice President of the USDA, said this in a statement:Because we understand that furloughing our food safety inspectors would not be good for consumers the economy, We view such furloughs as the last option we would implement to achieve the necessary sequestration cut.
Supermarkets aren't the only places being impacted by the talks in Washington. Families will also have to brace for budget cuts in several other areas.
Drastic cuts will be made to:
1. Unemployment benefits will be cut by 9.4 percent on average.
2. Meals on Wheels. More than 4 million seniors who depend on food being delivered to them will have to go without a meal.
3. Head Start could see at least $400 million in cuts which will affect around 70,000 children from lower income families.
4. National Parks may close or open late. The National Park Service will lose $110 million from its annual budget.
5. Airport security will experience furloughs. Which means longer lines to get through security.
6. Hurricane Sandy victims will be impacted. About $3 billion has been cut from a supplemental bill that will aid those still recovering. The cut includes funding that would have helped repair around 10,000 homes and small businesses.
The only good news is if Congress does not come to an agreement, some of these effects won't be felt for several months.
Congress still has time to come to an agreement. But if they do not, an extension of the March 1st deadline is also an option.