WASHINGTON -- With no progress evident in Washington's latest budget battle, the White House opened a new front Sunday by releasing state-by-state estimates on the effects of about $85 billion in spending reductions.
The across-the-board cuts are scheduled to take effect Friday, but the two sides appear more eager to pin blame than to avert a potential economic crisis.
One of President Barack Obama's top aides acknowledged that a deal was unlikely before the deadline. The sequester, as the cuts are being called, is "going into effect because Republicans are choosing for it to go into effect," senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday.
But a leading Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, called on Obama to convene a summit and head off a potential crisis.
"I won't put all the blame on the president of the United States, but the president leads," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "The president should be calling us over somewhere -- Camp David, the White House, somewhere -- and sitting us down and trying to avert these cuts."
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire noted that Obama had assured the country, during a presidential debate last fall, that the cuts would "not happen." She said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that "it's time for him to lead this effort as the commander in chief of this country."
Administration officials reject the idea that Obama hasn't reached out to Republican lawmakers, pointing out that he spoke by phone with GOP leaders last week.
The president is leading a campaign to warn the public of potentially dire consequences. Polls show that Republicans will get most of the blame if the cuts take effect. The deadline was supposed to be a cudgel to force Congress to find other cuts instead, but that didn't happen.
On the Sunday talk shows, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood repeated his prediction of serious airline delays if air traffic controllers are furloughed to help reduce expenses at the Federal Aviation Administration by $600 million over the next seven months.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned that as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs as federal funding is cut for elementary and secondary schools. "There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall," Duncan said on "Face the Nation."