Barack Obama labelled the automatic budget cuts that came into effect in the US today as “unnecessary” and “dumb” after making little progress to avert them at a meeting with congressional Republicans.
The cuts, worth $85billion (£56bn) in 2013 but more than a trillion over the next decade, were put together during the debt ceiling talks of 2011, and delayed until the start of 2013. A further delay pushed them to March, by when, it was hoped, Republicans and Democrats could agree on a way to avert them. But with no deal, they’ve come into force.
Displaying frustration at the lack of progress, Mr Obama said: “I can’t do some kind of Jedi Mind Meld on Congressional Republicans.” Earlier, he met Republican House Speaker John Boehner who has resisted White House calls that any plan to water down the cuts should come include tax hikes to raise revenue.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country... will suffer significant pay cuts and furloughs,” the President said later. “The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage. It will cost about 750,000 jobs.”