US budget cuts begin as sides trade blame
US President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have refused to concede any share of the blame for failing to stave off automatic spending cuts that will slash $85bn (€65bn) in federal spending.
The US economy braced itself for the gradual cuts, which took effect on Friday night.
Even as Democrats and Republicans pledged a renewed effort to retroactively undo the spending cuts, both parties say the blame rests on the other for any damage the cuts inflict.
Mr Obama and the Republicans have been fighting over federal spending since the opposition party regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections.
The cuts were designed to be so ruthless that both sides would be forced to find a better deal, but they haven't, despite two years to find a compromise.