Automatic-cuts mode officially starts when Obama signs an order for agencies to cut their budgets.
Welcome to Sequester Day! How will you celebrate and/or mourn? And what is your government doing to put a stop to it? The short answer, so far, is nothing. Congress already went home for the weekend, and the White House isn't scrambling to craft a rescue package. There's still time to make a deal, but it's highly unlikely that there will be one.
So what does happen today?
As a technical matter, the sequestration doesn't happen until President Obama orders it and he has until midnight tonight, to do so. Sometime today the Office of Management and Budget will order all federal agencies to cut their budgets by around nine percent, except for the Pentagon which needs to cut defense programs by 13 percent. The President's signature will formalize that order, but Press Secretary Jay Carney has already said that Obama will wait until the last possible moment to sign it, so most of you can go about your normal Friday and save the panicking for the weekend.