Speaking in near apocalyptic terms, the president warned of criminals going free, longer security lines at airports, reduced military readiness, fewer border guards, pre-schoolers losing access to Head Start programs and other problems if the full brunt of the spending cuts occur.
GOP leaders, meanwhile, seek to blame Obama for the forced spending cuts so that any hardships that result, such as predicted job losses and reductions in economic growth, get attributed to the president.
"The president's sequester is the wrong way to reduce the deficit, but it is here to stay until Washington Democrats get serious about cutting spending," wrote Boehner, R-Ohio, in the op-ed. "The government simply cannot keep delaying the inevitable and spending money it doesn't have. So, as the president's outrage about the sequester grows in coming days, Republicans have a simple response: Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?"
By using language such as "the president's sequester," Boehner and Republicans want to implant a public perception that the plan was Obama's all along.
The White House concedes that it raised the idea of forced budget cuts during the negotiations in 2011 on the debt ceiling deal, but argues Republicans, including Boehner and other House leaders, agreed to making it part of the deal and then voted for it.
Now, Carney says, Republicans acted like they never supported the idea.
He insisted Thursday that Obama has offered the only legitimate compromise proposal for significant deficit reduction, noting the Congressional Budget Office determined the president's plan would bring deficits below 3% of gross domestic product by 2015, which he called an accepted target by economists.
Carney labeled any comparisons between what Obama proposes and the Republican stance as a "false equivalence," arguing the president's approach of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and new tax revenue is a compromise from a hard-line Democratic position that rejects any benefit reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
"You come half way and your negotiating partner stays where he or she is, that makes it very difficult to reach a compromise," Carney told reporters. "You need compromise from the other side."
In negotiations last December on the fiscal cliff agreement, Obama was willing to include a less generous inflation index for benefits such as Social Security, despite vehement protests from his liberal base, Carney noted.
"There's some responsibility here on the Republican side to do what the president has done, which is to hear what the American people are saying, which is please compromise, please be reasonable, please do not adopt positions that represent a 'my way or the highway' approach," Carney said.
On Wednesday, Carney defended Obama's campaign-style approach to generating public support for his stance on the issue, saying such pressure worked in the spending and deficit agreements of the past two years.
"You know why they happened? Because the American people supported those positions that the president took," Carney said. "And, in the end, Congress responded to the will of the American people. And we hope that's what's going to happen again this time."
A new poll on Thursday showed a strong majority of Americans want the kind of comprehensive deficit reduction called for by Obama, but support for a stop-gap measure on the forced spending cuts was less certain.
Seven of 10 respondents in the Pew Research and USA Today survey called major legislation to reduce the deficit the most important priority for Congress, and 76% backed the combination of spending cuts and revenue increases favored by the president and Democrats.
At the same time, 73% want more spending cuts than tax increases while only about 20% say the solution should be spending cuts alone.
If the forced spending cuts go into effect, 49% of respondents would blame Republicans in Congress while 31% would blame Obama, the poll showed. However, 49% said the cuts should be delayed while 40% said they should go into effect.