TODAY | March 02, 2013
>> want to begin this morning with the $85 billion in across the board government spending cuts now in place. it's triggered automatically. the president signing the order late friday. kristen welker is at the white house to tell us more about it. good morning.
>> reporter: good morning you to. today president obama and members of congress are waking up with the realization that they failed to avert the sequester and now washington 's fight will have real consequences. it's the first day of the sequester and lawmakers have left town. this after an 11th hour meeting between the president and congressional leaders friday. a photo op that yielded no actual results.
>> this discussion about revenue in my view is over. it's about taking on the spending problem here in washington . the only thing that we've seen from republicans so far in terms of proposals is to replace this set of arbitrary cuts with even worse arbitrary cuts.
>> reporter: the president who has been warning of dire economic consequences for days acknowledged during a friday press conference the cuts will kick in gradually.
>> this is not going to be a -- an apocalypse as some people said. it's just dumb. it's going to hurt.
>> reporter: before heading home to ohio, house speaker john boehner spoke with nbc's david gregory .
>> in the end, you don't really see a path way here that's open as you sit here?
>> if i did, the meeting at the white house this morning might have gone better.
>> reporter: while washington continues to bluster, american are watching with worry. federal unemployment benefits could be reduced by 9.4%, nearly 50,000 faa employees could be furloughed, just a fraction of the furloughs the defense department is facing.
>> you take food from people's tables.
>> this man is a security guard at ft. mead next maryland, the third largest base in the u.s. where unpaid days start in april.
>> which will equate for me over $600 a month.
>> reporter: a concern shared by federal contractors.
>> i have two kids at home. i have my wife that is working.
>> reporter: and parents, education officials say as many as 70,000 kids could be kicked off head start programs like this one in port st. lucy, florida. and all americans can do is wait.
>> it is difficult. but we're going to go through itment we're going to prioritize and work ourselves through it.
>> reporter: now the next fiscal fight comes up at the end of the month. that one over a law that finances the government. incredibly both sides express agreement on one point, that they don't want to see a government shutdown . lester?
>> kristen welker, thanks. as we've