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$85 billion in budget cuts come into force in US

Meetings between President Obama and top congressional leaders broke down yesterday as they failed to reach a deal on how to reduce the deficit.

President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following a meeting with congressional leaders.
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following a meeting with congressional leaders.
Image: Carolyn Kaster/AP

SOME $85 billion in cuts are due to come into force today following the failure of President Barak Obama and Republican leaders to reach a deal on how to reduce the country’s huge deficit.

Obama is due to speak later this afternoon about the looming budget cuts following the break down of the meetings with top congressional leaders. Last night the president signed an executive order to bring in the cuts with both sides refusing to concede any culpability for failure to reach an agreement.

House Speaker John Boehner emerged from talks with the president to signal to reporters that Republicans would not budge on Obama’s key demand for a deal which would raise tax revenues.

“Let’s make it clear that the president got his tax hikes on January 1. This discussion about revenue in my view is over,” Boehner said.

“It is about taking on the spending problem in Washington.”

In his weekly radio address today, Obama said that none of this was necessary. “It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit,” he said.

The president said the cuts would cause “a ripple effect across the economy” that would worsen the longer they stay in place, eventually costing more than 750,000 jobs and disrupting the lives of middle-class families.

- © AFP 2013 with additional reporting from Associated Press.

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