As part of a deal to raise the national credit limit last year, Congress and the White House struck an agreement to slow deficit spending or face an automatic, across-the-board $1.2 trillion reduction in government programs and military outlays.
Congress so far hasn't been able to hammer out a new deal to avoid the looming cuts, which are set to start Jan. 2.
Economists worry that such a dramatic curbing of federal dollars could send the U.S. economy into another downward spiral.
"The national economy can't afford it," Fuller says. "It's too fragile."
Compared with other states, Utah isn't facing the same meat-cleaver hit to its jobs and economic status. The report says California could lose 225,000 workers and the Washington, D.C., region could see 450,000 jobs vanish.
But the losses for the Beehive State would be significant. They could slice Utah's economic output by $1.6 billion, according to Fuller's research, and statewide personal income would plunge by $821 billion.
Still, the potential losses may just be theoretical.
"It's not going to happen," says Jeff Thredgold, an economic consultant to Zions Bank who predicts politicians will reach a deal. "You've already got a weak economy. What you don't need in the economy is more uncertainty."
Thredgold notes that, on the federal level, reports like the one from George Mason are good at raising concern among Americans and keeping pressure on government leaders to avoid such extreme measures.
And, he notes, Congress and the White House have routinely put themselves in an untenable position and then come up with last-minute solutions that aren't palatable to everyone but better than the alternative.
"Bottom line is these jobs will be funded," Thredgold says.
On the Web
O To read the George Mason University report, go to http://tinyurl.com/6n6gvye