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

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

Mr. 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 said the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defence 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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