US President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans refused on Saturday to take any of the blame for failing to stave off automatic spending cuts that will slash $85 billion (£56.5bn) from federal spending.
Hours earlier, he and congressional leaders emerged from a White House meeting no closer to an agreement.
Even as Democrats and Republicans pledged a renewed effort to retroactively undo the spending cuts, both parties said the blame rested squarely on the other for any damage the cuts might inflict.
There were no indications that either side was wavering from entrenched positions that prevented progress on a deal.
Republicans are refusing any deal involving more tax revenue and Democrats snubbing any deal without it.
"None of this is necessary," Mr Obama said on Saturday. "It's happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps to reduce the deficit."
He said the cuts would cause "a ripple effect across the economy" that would worsen the longer they stay in place, eventually costing more than 750,000 jobs and disrupting the lives of working-class families.
The budget cuts were designed in 2011 to be so ruthless that both sides would be forced to find a better deal, but they haven't.
The cuts apply to the rest of the US fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
But without a deal they will continue slashing government spending by about $1 trillion (£665bn) more over the next 10 years.
The Pentagon will absorb half of the cuts required to be sliced between now and the end of the budget year, exposing civilian workers to redundancies and defence contractors to cancellations.
Mr Obama was holding out hope that as US citizens start feeling the effects, public pressure will force negotiators back to the table.
In May, Congress will confront a renewed standoff on increasing the government's borrowing limit - the issue that spawned the law forcing the current spending cuts in the first place.
Failure to raise the borrowing limit could force the US to default on its debt for the first time ever.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
A look at the causes and possible outcomes of Silvio Berlusconi and his right-wing coalition's lead in the polls.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed