WASHINGTON The White House conceded Wednesday that efforts to avoid automatic budget cuts are unlikely to succeed before they kick in and is initiating new talks with congressional leaders to confront seemingly intractable tax-and-spend issues.
President Barack Obama will meet at the White House on Friday with the bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate, several hours after the deadline for averting the cuts, known in Washington-speak as a “sequester,” have taken effect.
This would put the White House and Congress in the position of essentially looking past the cuts to the next looming fiscal encounter: A March 27 deadline to continue government operations or force a government shutdown.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the that the White House talks, which were arranged Tuesday, are designed to be a “constructive discussion” about how to keep the cuts from having harmful consequences. Obama has been calling for a mix of spending cuts and tax increases to achieve deficit reduction goals.
The White House has warned that the $85 billion in cuts could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms and meat inspections. The cuts would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to forced unpaid days off for hundreds of thousands of government workers.