White House, Republicans dig in ahead of budget talks
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Positions hardened between US President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders over the budget crisis even as they arranged to hold last-ditch talks to prevent harsh automatic spending cuts beginning this week.
Looking resigned to the $85 billion (S$105.9) in "sequestration" cuts starting on Friday, government agencies began reducing costs and spelling out to employees how furloughs will work.
Expectations were low that a White House meeting on Friday between Obama and congressional leaders, including Republican foes, would produce any deal to avoid the cuts.
Public services across the country - from air traffic control to food safety inspections and education - might be disrupted if the cuts go ahead.