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Budget cut warnings may prove harsher than reality

WASHINGTON (AP) - Get ready for two weeks of intensifying warnings about how crucial government services are about to go away - including many threats that could eventually prove true.

President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans made no progress last week in heading off $85 billion in budget-wide cuts that automatically start taking effect March 1. Lacking a bipartisan deal to avoid them, the administration is offering stark details about the consequences: trimmed defense contracts, less secure U.S. embassies, furloughed air traffic controllers.

Past administrations have played up how budget standoffs would wither federal programs the public values. When a budget fight caused two government shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, some threats came true, like padlocked national parks. Others, like ending feeding programs for the elderly, stayed afloat.


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