The $85 billion in federal spending cuts that began kicking in Friday are here to stay if you believe the latest public statements from Washington.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on NBC's Meet the Press (NBC)

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell calls the cuts modest, while House Speaker John Boehner  says he's not sure they will really hurt the economy. And the White House's top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, says the pain isn't that bad, at least right now.

McConnell says the 2.4 percent cut in spending "is a little more than the average American experienced just two months ago" when the payroll tax holiday expired.

But Sperling cautions: "On Day One, it will not be as harmful as it will be over time."

Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the cuts, while both pledging to undo them. But no one is offering a specific proposal for rolling back the cuts.

Taxes are the dividing line. Republicans insist there will be no new taxes and Democrats refuse to talk about any bargain without increased revenue.

McConnell spoke to CNN's "State of the Union." Boehner was interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press." Sperling appeared on ABC's "This Week," NBC and CNN.

US economy hamstrung by Washington's brinksmanship

ashington's perpetual budget warfare is damaging the economy.

Businesses don't know what the government is going to do on regulations, spending and contracting. So they're holding back from hiring. In some cases they're even letting people go. A trio of economists studied the problem and estimate that 2.3 million jobs have been lost since 2008 due to uncertainty over government actions.

Industry leaders and economists say the spending cuts that kicked in on Friday just continue this dynamic. It's expected that Congress will change them after the fact. That leaves more up in the air.

Next month may bring a government shutdown if President Obama and House Republicans can't agree on spending and taxes. In May there's another debt ceiling battle. The only certain thing is more uncertainty from Washington.


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