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Automatic budget cuts kick in at midnight Friday

FILE - In this Tuesday Feb. 19 2013 file phoPresident Barack Obamspeaks White House Washingtabout potential automatic budget cuts accompanied

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington about potential automatic budget cuts, accompanied by emergency responders, a group of workers he says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of the cuts. As economic policy goes, experts say, the automatic spending cuts that kick in Friday, March 1, are a bad idea. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

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WASHINGTON — The White House says automatic spending reductions set to kick in Friday will be put off until as close to midnight Friday night as possible. Call them the Cinderella cuts.

The law, passed by Congress on Jan. 2 simply says that “on March 1, 2013, the president shall order a sequestration for fiscal year 2013.” That’s budget talk for an $85 billion reduction in defense and domestic spending between now and Oct. 1. Obama can issue that order at any point in the day.

And White House press secretary Jay Carney says that means midnight, Friday — or as close to midnight as possible: 11:59 p.m. and 59 seconds.

Because, Carney says, Obama is “ever hopeful.”

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