USA Today: Obama, congressional leaders: No deal on sequester

David Jackson, USA TODAY3:55p.m. EST March 1, 2013

President Obama and congressional leaders failed to reach a deal Friday ahead of the deadline for the sequester, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that both sides say will be bad for the economy.

WASHINGTON — Preparing to leap into the fiscal unknown, President Obama and congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal Friday to avert the $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts set to begin at midnight.

“These cuts will hurt our economy; they will cost us jobs,” Obama told reporters after meeting 52 minutes with congressional leaders on the impact of the massive cuts known as the sequester.

Obama attributed the “dumb, arbitrary cuts” to a Republican refusal to agree to a new debt reduction plan that includes higher taxes on wealthy Americans through the closing of loopholes and deductions.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the meeting that Obama got tax hikes in the January agreement to end the last budget impasse, the so-called fiscal cliff.

“The discussion about revenue in my view is over,” Boehner said. “It’s about cutting the spending in Washington.”

The parties did appear to make progress on avoiding another potential budget standoff down the road — the March 27 expiration of the continuing resolution that is funding the government; failing to renew it would lead to a budget shutdown.

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