WASHINGTON -- The failure of Congress to slash the national deficit threatens to cascade from Washington straight into North Carolina's schools, stores and doctor's offices.
Automatic spending cuts - triggered by the lack of agreement in Congress over ways to reduce the more than $1.2 trillion deficit - will begin in 2013 and could mean:
- An estimated 9 percent cut in the $417 million that Duke University gets from the National Institute of Health to research cures for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's, alternative energy and national security.
- The loss of federal funds for public schools with large populations of low-income students. In Cabarrus County, for example, that means the school system could lose money that pays for a series of federal programs, including $210,000 in Title 1 funding, which helps low-income schools hire teachers and assistants to reduce class sizes, improve computer labs, purchase supplies, and increase teacher training.
- And the death of mom-and-pop shops in military towns like Fayetteville that could lose $351 million in defense contracts and tens of millions in civilian payroll.
"It's a huge concern," said Ramon Reyes, who owns Da Bootshop, a shoe and boot repair store outside Fort Bragg's gates.