Obama orders spending cuts, O'Hare travelers concerned - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Obama signs order to begin spending cuts, O'Hare travelers concerned

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

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

SEE: How budget cuts could affect you

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

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 says the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.

President Obama called the top bipartisan congressional leaders to the White House Friday hoping to reach a last-minute deal. Republicans and democrats have killed each other's plans to avoid massive automatic budget cuts.

SEE: Gridlock: No budging at the budget-cuts deadline

On Thursday, republicans in the Senate shot down a plan supported by the president that would replace government spending cuts with a new tax on the wealthy. Earlier, democrats killed a plan that republicans said would have let Mr. Obama decide which programs should be cut.

At O'Hare International Airport, travelers said they are concerned about the government budget cuts. One control tower and one runway could be closed in April.

TSA agents would also be furloughed, which means longer wait times at the airport. Passengers at O'Hare Airport could experience delays of up to 90 minutes. Travelers worry that the cuts will impact safety.

Travelers also said they are disgusted with what they are hearing from elected officials.

But transportation secretary Ray LaHood says safety will never be compromised.

The Gary South Shore Air Show could also be one of the victims of sequestration. The air show executives said they would be making a decision soon about its fate this year. The air show relies on a majority of acts that come from the U.S. military. Under sequestration, the military would suspend its participation in all air shows.

That would also have an impact here in Chicago. But so far there has been no decision about Chicago's Air and Water Show.

Indianapolis has already canceled its air show, which was scheduled for the middle of June.

The threat of sequestration was worked into 2011's Budget Control Act, as a way to force both sides to compromise on reducing the deficit with a specific deadline: Jan. 2, 2013. That deadline was the "fiscal cliff" the country would have gone over when the year began. 

But Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act instead, that set a March 1, 2013 deadline for lawmakers to come to a compromise before enacting the federal budget cuts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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