Here's what's at stake:
- a 2011 federal budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30;
- the 2012 federal budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1; and
- a cap on the national debt that prevents the Treasury Department from borrowing any funds once the $14.2 trillion limit has been hit -- sometime between May and July.
The stakes are huge, from new taxes and cuts in weapons programs and overseas military operations to chaos in global financial markets. For Americans age 50 and older, the stakes are profound. Central to the budget-balancing conversations are the growing costs of older Americans as reflected in the growing costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This timeline highlights key decision points in a crucial year for federal finances.
The 2011 Budget
The 2012 Budget
Obama's Defict Reduction Plan
Judi Hasson is a veteran Washington reporter.