Understanding the sequester means we have to start with the Supercommittee.
Formed during 2011, the Supercommittee was the solution to the debt ceiling impasse. At the time, the Congress refused to pass a debt ceiling increase unless we had a plan to cut spending. So they passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 with several spending reduction approaches. The first step was the Supercommittee. Composed of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans, the committee was supposed to create a deficit plan. If they failed, then the alternative was future automatic cuts.
You know what happened. Because the members of the committee could not agree, the cuts kick in tomorrow, March 1. They target 4 areas that you can remember with DDMM: Defense, Discretionary, Mandatory, Medicare.
And finally, a detail. The sequester hits on March 1, but when? The White House says 11:59 p.m. while the GOP says 12:01 a.m.
I also hope the following graphs are helpful. The first provides a “macro” perspective while the second, with the specifics, is “micro.”
Sources and Resources: To look at additional details about the sequester, you will find this Washington Post article ideal. I used it and a Heritage.org graph and a Post graph for most of my facts. Also, here is the Budget Control Act of 2011 and here is more detail about the disagreement over when the sequester kicks in.