"The states have got that infrastructure set up," he said. "To ask the fed[eral] government to do it would be extraordinarily costly and too complex. It just wouldn't get done."
But Pat Hagan, the national audit partner for state and local government at Deloitte and Touche LLP, said that providing help to municipalities through existing federal programs -- such as low-income housing and social services programs -- could also prove successful.
"That's probably an easier route" than creating a new program, he said.
Philadelphia Budget Director Stephen Agostini said that, for now, the city is preparing its budget with the assumption that the assistance won't come through. To help close a $108 million budget gap for the current fiscal year -- which ends this June -- Philadelphia is preparing to close 11 libraries and seven fire companies. It also lay off some 200 city worker and will not fill 200 vacant police officer positions.
"We have to have a balanced budget," Agostini said.
Other cities are making similar cuts. Here is a breakdown of recent and proposed cuts in eight cities, courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Mayors:
Layoffs, demotions and the elimination of most personnel vacancies, including 16 police officer and 13 firefighter vacancies and the demotion of 13 fire captains.
An overall elimination of 10 percent of the city's workforce.
So far, the city has cut $1.1 billion from last year's budget, $1.3 billion from this year's and $1.2 billion from next year's.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently ordered city agencies to come up with another $1.5 billion in cuts.
The city Department of Education will be cut by more than $580 million, in addition to $180 million in cuts to public schools last February.
The police department budget will also be reduced by $286 million.
Mayor Richard M. Daley has proposed laying off 929 city workers and eliminating 1,346 vacant jobs.
Mayor Ron Dellums is proposing shutting down City Hall one day a week, eliminating 84 city jobs, imposing hiring freezes and cutting other services.
Cuts to 130 positions in the city's fire department.
4,600 city employees will have their hours -- and pay -- cut by 10 percent each week.
The pay and hour cuts, which begin Dec. 1, affect 4,600 city employees.
The city earlier this year laid off 372 employees, eliminated about 900 jobs and cut some services.
An immediate hiring freeze for most city agencies, including the police department.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the city council have suggested reducing the mayor's proposed youth violence prevention initiative by $1.3 million.
Reducing proposed new funds for building housing units for homeless people by $500,000.
Shrinking the public safety program to install cameras in parks by $300,000. Cameras would be installed in fewer parks than planned.
Eliminating several transportation projects, including the Renton Avenue South roundabout and participation in the county's South Park Bridge environmental study.
Eliminating a hiring incentive program that pays for uniforms for new recruits in the Seattle Police Department.
Proposed cuts would impact transportation projects and affordable housing programs, among other things.
The furlough of 889 non-union city employees, about one-fifth of the city's approximately 5,000-person workforce: They will be required to take one unpaid day off per month.