Speaking at a press conference, the U.S. president warned the nation to get prepared for a drawn-out confrontation that is already predicted to last for months and to become painful for working-class people.
“We will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think as some people have said,” Mr Obama said.
“It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt individual people and it’s going to hurt the economy overall,” he said.
The president went on, adding that he still believes the cuts could be replaced but he wanted a deal that includes more tax revenue, Fox News reports.
“Let’s be clear: None of this is necessary,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. We shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things.”
Federal agencies will spend the weekend restructuring their budget plans and getting prepared for sending out letters to federal workers giving them 30 days notice of shorter hours, furloughs and even lay-offs.
As The Guardian writes, the White House budget office is also obliged to inform Congress of where the spending cuts are to be made.
The hardest-hit department is expected to become the Pentagon, which will have to find more than $40bn in savings until September, about 9% of its overall budget.
As analysts predict, almost every government department will be hit, with cuts amounting to about 5% of their overall budgets. However, Medicaid and welfare benefits such as food stamps are exempted.
“It is absolutely true that this is not going to precipitate the crisis” that would have been caused by the so-called fiscal cliff, Obama said.
“But people are going to be hurt. The economy will not grow as quickly as it would have. Unemployment will not go down as quickly as it would
have. And there are lives behind that. And it’s real.”
The White House insists on raising tax revenue, through elimination of tax loopholes and deductions that benefit wealthy citizens and corporations.
Meanwhile, Republicans are searching a way to spend cuts only, with an emphasis on entitlement programs, ABC News informs.
“This discussion about revenue, in my view, is over,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after the meeting. “It’s about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.”
However, the speaker didn’t’ give any indication of a breakthrough to avert $85 billion in budget cuts set to kick-in before the end of the day.
“The American people know that Washington has a spending problem, and while there are smarter ways to cut spending than the process that we’re about to engage on, the House shouldn’t have to pass a third bill before the Senate does anything,” he said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the contrary, is still trying to push new tax revenue as part of a package to offset the sequester because there is “big money there.”
“There are probably around a trillion dollars in tax expenditures that occur each year,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “We have to go to the table and say, these tax expenditures are spending. They cost the taxpayer.”