WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed an order authorizing the government to begin cutting $85 billion from federal accounts, officially enacting across-the-board reductions that he opposed but failed to avert.
Obama acted Friday, the deadline for the president and Congress to avoid the steep, one-year cuts.
Obama has insisted on replacing the cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans have rejected any plan that included tax revenue.
The government says the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.
Earlier in the day the President said he can't do a "Jedi mind meld" with Republican leaders and persuade them to do what he believes is right when it comes to trimming federal spending.
Asked if he could refuse to allow Republican leaders of the House and Senate to leave a White House meeting until a budget agreement was reached, Obama said that's not how a constitutional form of government works.
2 On Your Side found Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Chris Collins in Western New York at press events on Friday and we pressed the point about whether Congress should have remained in Washington.
Senator Gillibrand replied "I agree. I don't think anyone should be doing anything but trying to reach a resolution on this issue. I know that the President had a meeting today with Congressional leaders but I don't know how that went. But this is what's wrong with Washington. You have people who are unwilling to compromise and work together. The Republicans in the House have said they will not entertain any new revenues which means no deal is achievable."
Congressman Collins said "We've been trying to get the President to meet for ten months. And he hasn't done it. And we can meet on Monday or a week from Monday. These cuts aren't happening tomorrow morning. There's nothing much we can do in Washington. If the President won't meet with us, we'll be sitting in a room by ourselves." As it turns out the President and Congressional leaders did meet Friday morning at the White House.
The President says Americans will get through the automatic spending cuts kicking in Friday.
Obama says the nation shouldn't be making "dumb and arbitrary" cuts. He says Republicans have allowed the cuts to happen.
Obama stays he still believes the cuts can be replaced, but he wants a deal that includes more taxes.
He says as long as the cuts stay in effect, Americans will know that the economy could have been better had they been averted.
AP & WGRZ