Although the term "sequester" has been around since 1985, it became one of 2012's words of the year, and on March 1, it may go from an abstract term to a fiscal disaster for the United States. Essentially, sequestration is automatic, across the board spending cuts. In this case, the cuts would take place over the next nine years and will total $1.2 trillion, $85 billion of which would take effect immediately. They affect discretionary spending (military pay, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, and veterans' benefits are exempt) and are divided between defense ($500 billion) and non-defense ($700 billion) spending. Most people agrees that the cuts are draconian and will adversely affect nearly all Americans...so how did the government allow itself to be backed into this corner?