EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 27, 2013

Sequester fears affect businesses, agencies

SALEM — Micro-Precision Technologies put off filling two jobs as its customers delayed orders amid concerns about pending automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts.

“It has affected our flow of business,” general manager J. Michael Sapienti said yesterday from his office at the company that benefits from defense-related contracts.

Customers are nervous, Sapienti said.

“It’s the ‘FUD factor’ — fear, uncertainty and doubt,” he said.

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation agrees the so-called sequester is the wrong way to cut spending.

But it’s unclear whether the delegation — or anyone else in Washington — can stop the cuts before they move forward Friday.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., toured the Salem company last week to highlight her concerns.

“Domestic manufacturing companies like Micro-Precision Technologies are critical to our long-term economic growth and the United States’ competitive edge,” she said, “but they’re also the type of business that will bear the harsh brunt of Congress’ inaction and inability to compromise.”

Failure by Congress to act will put the country on a path to $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years and the cost cutting would hit New Hampshire right away.

The White House said New Hampshire this year would lose $3.2 million in education aid, $1.5 million for environmental protection, about $500,000 for public health, $138,000 for job training and $225,000 for meals for seniors, among other cuts.

An official at the Rockingham Nutrition and Meals on Wheels Program said the sequester cuts would come on top of state aid cuts.

“It’s like everybody is jumping on the same pile,” Executive Director Debra Perou said yesterday. “This is not good.”

The program, which gets about 60 percent of its funding from state and federal aid, served 328,000 meals three years ago. It now serves about 288,000 meals, Perou said, and would see the number fall with pending aid cuts.

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