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President Obama signs order to begin spending cuts

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DEVELOPING: President Barack Obama has signed an order authorizing the government to begin cutting $85 billion from federal accounts, officially enacting across-the-board reductions that he opposed but failed to avert.

Obama acted Friday, the deadline for the president and Congress to avoid the steep, one-year cuts.

Obama has insisted on replacing the cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans have rejected any plan that included tax revenue.

The government says the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.

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Some $85 billion in spending cuts by the U.S. government are due to take effect Friday as part of a previous budget agreement between the White House and Congress.

The planned "sequester" could hit U.S. growth if no deal is reached to avoid it.

President Barack Obama met in intense talks with congressional leaders at the White House Friday, both Democrats and Republicans staking out fiscal positions with the threat of a government shutdown looming.

"Let's be clear: None of this is necessary. It's happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," President Obama said. "We shouldn't be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things."

The meeting -- lasting less than an hour -- yielded no immediate results.

Those automatic budget cuts that will cut federal positions and services will also have an impact on Congress.

Speaker John Boehner told Republican members that he is suspending the use of military aircraft for official trips by House members.

Rep. Peter King (R- NY) said there are other ways to cut $85B in spending.

"One answer is to do it in a more intelligent way and target programs that are not essential," said King.

The New York/New Jersey area could lose $3million to $4 million.

A White House spokesman says Obama remains "ever hopeful" and will put off signing the order until as close as possible to midnight, Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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