This all makes spending cuts sound like an altogether bad decision, but a broader view complicates the picture. While any large spending cuts could be detrimental to the D.C. and national economies in the short to medium term, particularly given shaky economic growth since the recession, deficit reduction means much greater economic growth potential nationwide in the longer term.
Indeed, there are some who argue that D.C. has been too healthy for too long. The flip side of the federal government buoying the D.C. economy, says Cato's Edwards, is that D.C. benefits at the expense of taxpayers.
"Every dollar we spend on Social Security, for example, comes from someone else through payroll taxes. It's just middle-income America taxing middle-income Americans."
The same thing applies to the large amounts of federal spending that boosts the D.C. area, he says. More than Over 10 percent of all workers in the D.C. metro area are federal government employees, compared to around 2 percent for the nation as a whole.
Whether D.C. is due for some economic pain or not, one thing looks increasingly certain: It's on its way.
"If Congress puts off sequestration this year, other spending cuts are going to come later this year or next year anyway," Edwards says. "The Washington region will have to get used to it."
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed a report to the National Security Network. The report is from the Center for International Policy.