President Obama on Tuesday painted a dire picture of federal government operations across the United States should automatic budget cuts hit on March 1: F.B.I. agents furloughed, criminals released, flights delayed, teachers and police officers laid off and parents frantic to find a place for children locked out of day care centers.
However! As Reuters and others have pointed out, these scary outcomes won't all fall on Americans' heads at once. (Less like a "meat cleaver," as Reuters puts it, and more like a "rolling" blackout of government services.)