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With just four days remaining until automatic budget cuts kick in, Republicans are looking to call President Obama’s “bluff” — by giving him the flexibility to spread around the budget-ax pain in a way that would prevent the kind of fiscal doomsday his administration is predicting.

The White House on Sunday evening ramped up its campaign to pressure Republicans, releasing state-by-state reports detailing the purported impact of the cuts. For days, top Cabinet officials have taken to the media to warn about the widespread damage if Congress does not agree to avert the cuts with an Obama-endorsed blend of spending reductions and tax increases.

But Republicans have recently questioned whether the president might have more flexibility than he’s letting on. The $85 billion in cuts on tap for this year, they note, amounts to a little more than 2 percent of the federal budget — enough to be felt, but not enough to necessarily herald a crippling of government functions. The Pentagon would be hit disproportionately, but some hope that with a little discretion, the administration could spare the military and other departments from a devastating budget blow.

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