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Briefing

'Fiscal cliff'? 'Sequester'? Your guide to Congress's code language.

Congress knows what it means by terms such as 'fiscal cliff' or 'Simpson-Bowles,' but to many outside the Beltway they may as well be speaking Greek. Here's a translation of Washington's shorthand for budgetary issues now before the country – with each entry explained in 50 words or less.  

2. Sequester

Mandatory spending cuts – $600 billion in defense, $600 billion in domestic programs – that kick in starting in 2013 if lawmakers can’t find comparable cuts by then. Intended to force Congress to agree on long-term deficit reduction. So far, it hasn’t.

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