President Obama and congressional Republicans did not reach a deal on Friday that would have averted the $85 billion cuts that begin at midnight.
“These cuts will hurt our economy; they will cost us jobs,” Obama told reporters. Obama said that the “dumb, arbitrary cuts” were caused by the refusal of the Republicans to agree to a new debt plan. The plan would include higher taxes on wealthy Americans.
“The discussion about revenue in my view is over,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “It’s about cutting the spending in Washington.”
“This is not going to be a apocalypse, I think, as some people have said,” Obama said at one point. “It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.”
Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said, “Does any lawmaker, reporter, or citizen believe that the only way to save taxpayer dollars is to hurt children, that every government program is effective and helpful and not one penny is wasted?”
The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), said that the meeting Friday was “an opportunity to restate our commitment to the American people that we would significantly reduce Washington spending.” He also said that his party would work on “solutions for making spending reductions more intelligently than the president’s across-the-board cuts. I will not be part of any back-room deal and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes.”
Obama noted that many people in the country will not feel the effects of the sequester for months. He predicted “a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day.” He said that the effects will be felt most in the government. This includes the Border Patrol, the Pentagon, the FBI and social service agencies.
“I don’t anticipate a huge financial crisis,” Obama said, “but people are going to be hurt. You know, this is not a win for anybody. This is a loss for the American people.”