cuts. But the White House is also keenly aware that it would give Republicans an opening to blame Obama, instead of themselves, for every unpopular cut he makes.
Obama wants any deficit-reduction deal to include both targeted cuts and tax increases, but Republican congressional leaders insist on reduced spending alone. Obama is proposing closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Many Republicans say they are done raising revenue after letting taxes on top earners increase in December.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner said he'd already done his part, saying the House twice passed bills to replace the cuts with more targeted reductions.
"We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,'' Boehner told reporters.
Despite the grim predictions, there is breathing room for political settlement if Friday's deadline comes and goes. Federal workers would be notified next week that they will have to take up to a day every week off without pay, but the furloughs won't start for a month due to notification requirements.
Many of the cuts to hit the Defense Department and other federal agencies would come in later years and could be partially offset by cuts in programs that are wasteful or behind schedule.