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Obama signs order for cuts: ‘It’s just dumb … it’s going to hurt’

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obamaWASHINGTON — Politics trumped progress on Friday as President Barack Obama and Republican leaders traded blame for $85 billion in forced spending cuts after they failed to come up with a compromise to avert the harshest impacts.

The president Friday night signed an order required by law that set in motion the automatic, government-wide cuts.

Obama and congressional leaders from both parties met for about 45 minutes at the White House, but no agreement emerged to avert the cuts that both sides oppose.

Click here for the White House’s fact sheet on how sequestration will affect Washington state

The House speaker, John Boehner, R-Ohio, emerged with the same talking points he has been repeating for weeks. He said he would not agree to the president’s demand that the cuts be replaced with a deficit reduction deal that includes new taxes on upper-income earners.

QUIZ: How much do you know about sequestration?

Obama sought to dial back some of the rhetoric. Most Americans, he said, won’t immediately feel the effects of the complex process known as sequestration, which is expected to unfold like a slow-motion budgetary car crash.

“The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy — a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day,” Obama said after meeting congressional leaders for less than an hour in the Oval Office. “This is not going to be an apocalypse…. It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.”

The pain of $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will kick in next month when agencies are forced to order air traffic controllers, food inspectors, prosecutors, janitors and other federal workers to take one or two days of unpaid leave for every two-week pay period. Most federal agencies are required to give workers at least 30 days’ notice of any furloughs.

The slow ramp-up gives Obama and congressional Republicans time to strike a deal before the next crisis hits — a potential government shutdown. The legislation authorizing money to run the government expires March 27.

The GOP-led House plans to pass a budget bill next week, giving the Democratic-controlled Senate a chance to act in time to keep the government running.

“I’m hopeful that we won’t have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we’re dealing with the sequester at the same time,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters after the White House meeting.

The Justice Department and National Labor Relations Board issued furlough notices ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline. The vast majority of furloughs at other agencies are not expected to begin until April.

The acting head of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven T. Miller, informed employees that they would not be furloughed until after tax-filing season ends this summer. They then would need to take five to seven days of unpaid leave before Sept. 30.

The Pentagon said it would furlough most of its 800,000 civilian employees one day a week — amounting to a 20% pay cut — with notifications coming this month.

Except for military pay and a few other accounts, all the Pentagon’s 2,500 budget accounts will be cut by up to 15% for the rest of the fiscal year, as the Defense Department is required to cut spending by $42.7 billion in 2013.

“As the year goes on, it will be unmistakable,” Ashton Carter, the deputy secretary of Defense, said of the effect. “It’s not subtle.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Air Force would start reducing flying hours immediately, the Army would curtail training and the Navy would “gradually stand down” four of its air wings. A Navy air wing typically has seven or eight squadrons of aircraft.

When asked for specific actions the Pentagon would take this weekend, Carter did not name any. Over the next two weeks, he said, Army units scheduled to go to the National Training Center, a vast installation in the California desert, would see those plans canceled.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

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  • electedface

    Cut Congressional Pay! – In any other job, if your approval rating fell below 80%, you'd be fired. Congress' approval rating dropped below 12% – the worst since…. THE CIVIL WAR.

  • Reedemed

    Asking Congress to quit spending is like asking an Alcoholic to stop drinking.. ain't going to happen unless there is an intervention

    • garett

      why not just cut the $1.5 trillion dollar F-35 fighter program? Its over priced and unsuccessful anyways why is it that we can never cut military spending?

  • Bootlegger59

    Okay obammy, who you going to blame for this one! Surely, it wasn't YOUR fault, was it! Hey, I've got an idea, why don't you and ALL your politician friends, take a pay CUT!! THAT in itself, would help restore some semblance of order, plus…… would make all us common citizens feel somewhat better.

  • Guest

    step1 stop aid to all countries they all hate us anyway so they can continue to do so with ought our money. Step 2 (some of you will hate me for this but here it goes any way) if you are not legally in this country you don't get any government benefits. Amend the constitution that congress has to balance the budget to get paid by making their pay the last line. And label it discretionary spending. Just to start. These are not in any order.

  • Yours Truly

    Stupid Congress!!! I hate Congress. That's half the reason our country and economy is as messed up as it is… because the Republicans are all about the $. They don't give a crap about the average American at all. Those idiots are running our economy straight into the ground… apparently everyone is realizing it. It just sucks we can't do anything about it, they're a bunch of old hags!

  • JDP

    @Yours… You really don't have a clue about what is going on do you? What is happening to our country is the culmination of 35 years of "progressive liberalism". The "new world order" crowd are smelling the victory of "bringing America to it's knees" to make the world on big happy family. One only has to read "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky which has been required reading for social engineers since the mid 60's to easily figure out what and why things are happening the way they are. . Obama suggested, promoted and signed these cuts into law back in 2011. Now his bluff has been called and he alone is responsible for the outcome.

    • Meg

      I’m so glad there are other people who research what’s going instead of believing the drivel that’s being passed off as journalism.

      The reason why the sequester took effect is because Mr Obama refused to give up tax increases. You know, when typical families are facing a financial crunch, they CUT spending. They don’t get to open up credit card after credit card. So why should this shoddy excuse of a government get to do that? Because Mr Obama thinks he is better than anyone else. What a jerk

  • Yuck Fu

    @JDP Unless you're rich politicians don't care about you. You sound like a conservative to me, you blindly believe anything a republican says and that's just sad. Don't blame this whole thing on Obama because rich folks don't really deserve extra tax breaks. When this whole thing breaks down and you find yourself in the poor category, don't while about it then.

    • Meg

      Yes because wealth re-distribution is a great idea. I mean it totally worked for Russia right? If you really cared about being fair, you’d pay the same amount of tax the wealthy pay. You come off as bitter and entitled and frankly, that’s not a good look for you.

      Obama doesn’t care about jack squat now he’s been re-elected. Case in point the fact that we even have to “worry” about the sequester. He won’t budge on raising taxes for the wealthy even though Republicans caved in once already. The sequester itself is also a product of Mr Obama in order to keep the debt ceiling fight at bay until AFTER he was re-elected.

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