Overall, the two sides remain ideologically opposed on how to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.
Republicans seek to shrink the size of government to lower costs, while Democrats argue some new tax revenue is necessary to maintain the social safety net that protects the elderly, disabled and impoverished.
Polls show the public is about as politically divided as its leaders. While most Americans support a deficit reduction plan that includes spending cuts and increased revenue, as well as entitlement reforms, there is little agreement on the formula for such a package.
A CBS News poll Monday showed that more Americans blame Republicans in Congress than Obama and Democrats for the failure to avert the forced spending cuts, but the gap between the two has narrowed compared to earlier polls by other organizations.
According to the survey, 38% blame congressional Republicans and 33% blame Obama and congressional Democrats, with 19% blaming both. Despite the narrowing gap, the results showed a continued negative perception of Republicans.
Darrell West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said Republicans "have some good cards to play in this debate." After last year's election campaign, in which the main GOP message was to repeal whatever Obama did, Republicans were now "being more strategic in how they're approaching the budget."
"As opposed to saying no to everything, they are picking and choosing their fights," West told CNN.
To Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University, Obama's campaign-style efforts in recent weeks to blame Republicans for the forced spending cuts and inspire public outrage over them proved to be ineffective and misplaced.
"When people can't see the damage, they don't worry about the damage," Schiller told CNN, later adding: "Americans did not re-elect President Obama to play the partisan blame game; they re-elected him to run the country, and that is what he should be doing."