Automatic budget cuts become the law in U.S.

Under current U.S. law, automatic cuts to domestic programs and national defense will begin in 2013 because a congressional committee failed to agree on trimming America’s federal deficit. Already, many lawmakers say they want to shield favored federal programs from the budget ax, despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

A budget deal earlier this year specified there would be $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, known as a sequester, if a special supercommittee failed to trim the deficit by an equal amount over a 10-year period. The supercommittee’s failure leaves the sequester in place, at least for now.

President Obama says austerity is on the way. “One way or another, we will be trimming the deficit,” he said.

That means major cuts to a range of programs, from farm subsidies to transportation to payments to medical providers for treating the elderly. It also means deep cuts for the defense budget.

The looming sequester angers lawmakers across the ideological spectrum. Many Democrats oppose cuts to infrastructure and other domestic programs. And Republicans say security will suffer if the Pentagon budget is slashed. Rep. Howard McKeon said, “National defense has contributed enough to deficit reduction.”

Congress may try to pass legislation blocking the spending cuts. President Obama says a new budget plan is welcome, but only if it reduces the deficit as much as the sequester.

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