Obama: We will get through cuts
President Barack Obama says Americans will get through the automatic budget cuts kicking in Friday.
Obama says the nation shouldn't be making "dumb and arbitrary" cuts. He says Republicans have allowed the cuts to happen.
Obama stays he still believes the cuts can be replaced, but he wants a deal that includes more taxes.
He says as long as the cuts stay in effect, Americans will know that the economy could have been better had they been averted.
Obama spoke after a meeting with congressional leaders that yielded no immediate results.
The meeting got under way shortly after 10 a.m. EST. Representing Republicans House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Democrats House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid participated in the meeting.
President Obama is expected to sign the order that will slash $85 billion from the federal budget and lead to furloughs and layoffs nationwide.
"We're not going to walk away from the only chance of getting spending under control around here," said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
But they did - literally. The US House of Representatives is gone this morning. That means virtually zero chance of any last-minute deal to avoid these cuts.
"I'll be here," said Boehner. "My message at the White House will be the same that I'm telling you today, it's time for them to do their job and to pass a bill."
"There are no preconditions to a meeting like this. Any topic is up for discussion," said Jay Carney, White House press secretary.
Not just today's cuts, but also government funding that runs out later this month.
"Get it all done at once. It would be so easy to do," said Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).
The cuts aren't official yet, but we're already seeing the impact: The USS Truman in Norfolk is on standby. Arlington Cemetery's expected to cut 160 funerals a month. Iowa families may lose their chance to get public housing, plus furloughs and layoffs:
"I have two kids at home; my wife is working," said Jim Wylde, federal contractor.
More than half the nation's government workers are bracing for unpaid days off:
"We will survive. We'll do okay. But I think this is a hell of a way to run a railroad," said Mary Jo Dearing, Health and Human Services.
The International Monetary Fund says they may shave half a percent off its growth estimates for the United States.
No delays on tax refunds
One bright spot: Any furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service will be delayed until summer, after the tax filing season ends. That's according to acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who sent employees a memo saying he wants to minimize the impact on taxpayers and IRS workers.
Miller says employees could be furloughed for five to seven days, if the spending cuts remain in effect this summer.
The IRS boasts that most taxpayers get refunds within 21 days, if they file electronically and get refunds deposited directly into bank accounts.
Automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect Friday are expected to touch a vast range of government services. Some examples:
One of the Navy's premiere warships, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, sits pier-side in Norfolk, Va., its tour of duty delayed. The carrier and its 5,000-person crew were to leave for the Persian Gulf on Feb. 8, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg.
Veterans' funerals at Arlington National Cemetery could be cut to 24 a day from 31, meaning delays in burials for troops from past wars. Troops killed in action in Afghanistan will be the priority - they are usually laid to rest within two weeks, Army spokesman George Wright said. But overall funerals would be reduced by about 160 a month because of furloughs among civilian employees who work with families to schedule services as well as furloughs among crews that dig the graves and do other grounds work.
Pentagon investments in countering cyberthreats and nuclear proliferation will be at risk, says Michael Vickers, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. And the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, says the agency could be hit hard because it depends heavily on military and civilian personnel to accomplish its mission.
Coast Guard rescue aircraft will fly fewer hours and cutters will patrol the seas for fewer hours, says Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp. Emergencies will be a priority and interdictions of illegal immigrants, drugs and illegal fishing could decline.
Hundreds of illegal immigrants have been freed from jail across the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they had reviewed several hundred cases of immigrants and decided to put them on an "appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release" in a moved started Tuesday.
There could be an estimated 2,100 fewer food safety inspections and increased risks to consumers because of the cuts and the fact that lack of a new 2013 budget means the Food and Drug Administration is held at last year's spending level. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says most of the effects wouldn't be felt for a while, and the agency won't have to furlough workers.
Hospitals, doctors and other Medicare providers will see a 2 percent cut in government reimbursements because once cutback takes effect, Medicare will reimburse them at 98 cents on the dollar. But they aren't complaining because the pain could be a lot worse if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans actually did reach a sweeping agreement to reduce federal deficits. Automatic cuts taking effect Friday would reduce Medicare spending by about $100 billion over a decade. But Obama had put on the table $400 billion in health care cuts, mainly from Medicare. And Republicans wanted more.
The nation's busiest airports could be forced to close some of their runways, causing widespread flight delays and cancellations. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood predicts flights to cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco could have delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because fewer controllers will be on duty.
Though the spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect on Friday, furloughs of controllers won't kick in until April because the Federal Aviation Administration is required by law to give its employees advance notice. In addition to furloughs, the FAA is planning to eliminate midnight shifts for air traffic controllers at 60 airport towers, close over 100 control towers at smaller airports and reduce preventative maintenance of equipment.
Visiting hours at all 398 national parks are likely to be cut and sensitive areas would be blocked off to the public. Thousands of seasonal workers looking for jobs would not be hired, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar and National Park Service director Jon Jarvis said visitors would encounter locked restrooms, fewer rangers and trash cans emptied less frequently.
More than half of the nation's 2.1 million government workers may be required to take furloughs if agencies are forced to trim budgets. At the Pentagon alone that could mean 800,000 civilian workers would be off for 22 days each, spread across more than five months - and lose 20 percent of their pay over that period. Other federal agencies are likely to furlough several hundred thousand more workers.
Some 70,000 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten Head Start would be cut from the program and 14,000 teachers would lose their jobs. For students with special needs, the cuts would eliminate some 7,200 teachers and aides. The Education Department is also warning that the cuts will impact up to 29 million student loan borrowers and that some lenders may have to lay off staff or even close. Some of the 15 million college students who receive grants or work-study assignments at some 6,000 colleges would also see changes.
Congressional trips overseas likely will take a hit. House Speaker John Boehner told Republican members in a closed-door meeting that he's suspending the use of military aircraft for official trips by House members. Lawmakers typically travel on military planes for fact-finding trips to Afghanistan or Pakistan, or other congressional excursions to foreign locales.