Obama says middle class to feel 'pain' of budget cuts

U.S. President Barack Obama used his weekly online address Saturday to warn Americans who will be affected by $85 billion in government spending cuts, which are due to roll out gradually after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a budget deal.

“It's important to understand that while not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away, the pain will be real,” Obama said.

“Many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in a significant way. Beginning this week, businesses that work with the military will have to lay folks off," he said. "Communities near military bases will take a serious blow."

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He went on to say that hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country on security matters — including border control agents, FBI agents, and especially civilians who work with the defence department — will see their wages cut and their hours reduced.

There is talk that some employees will have to take furloughs, or unpaid days off. The White House has speculated that thousands of Federal Aviation Administration may have to take unpaid leave.

On the domestic side, everything from health care and education to law enforcement and scientific research is expected to be affected by the budget cuts.

The automatic across-the-board budget cuts — termed "sequestration" in Washington — were confirmed after Obama and congressional Republicans failed to strike a deal Friday to avert the reductions.

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At a news conference after their morning meeting, Obama referred to "dumb, arbitrary cuts" and blamed the lack of a deal to avert them on a Republican refusal to agree to a new debt reduction plan that would include higher taxes on wealthy Americans through the closing of loopholes and deductions.

Republicans said they wanted cuts, but not tax increases.

"The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, a reference to a $600 billion increase on higher wage earners that cleared Congress on the first day of the year.

Now, he said after the meeting, it is time take on "the spending problem here in Washington."

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