President Barack Obama is taking his campaign against the forced federal spending cuts - set to take effect on Friday - before business leaders, telling them Wednesday evening that the cuts will be bad for their businesses and cause the economy to "tumble downward."
"Whether that can be done in the next two days," Obama said, pausing mid-sentence, then continuing, "I haven't seen things done in two days here in Washington in quite some time."
His skepticism comes as the final days before Friday's deadline pass with no sign of frenzied negotiations to broker a last-minute deal. Instead, both sides are engaging in campaign-like tactics in an apparent effort to argue they aren't responsible for what is almost certain to begin at the end of this week.
By 11:59 p.m. Friday, Obama must order a broad spread of federal agencies, including the Defense Department, to cut $85 billion from their budgets over the next seven months, the remainder of the government's fiscal year.
Unlike the last showdown -- in late December when tax increases and the sequester were set to trigger -- Obama said this is no "fiscal cliff."
"I'm sure you've heard from a number of experts and economists that this is not a cliff, but it is a tumble downward," he told leaders at an event held by The Business Council. "It's conceivable that in the first week, the first two weeks, the first three weeks, the first month ... a lot of people may not notice the full impact of the sequester."
Exceptions, he said, could include businesses related to the defense industry, where the cuts are expected to be a larger percentage of their budget. Still, Obama warned, "this is going to be a big hit on the economy."
The White House has announced no public events for the president on Thursday or Friday.