Next week, the "sequester," a package of severe cuts to government spending, will take effect, and although the consequences won't all be felt the first day, they will come fairly quickly, and they'll be painful, not only to people on an individual basis—say if you're one of the thousands of government employees being furloughed, or when you're waiting in longer lines at the airport—but to the broader economy as all these effects begin to ripple outward. And so, the administration and Congress are engaging in what surely looks to most Americans like a spectacularly idiotic argument about whose fault it is. But before we start blaming both sides equally for indulging in a battle over blame, we have to be clear on who's actually to blame for all the blaming. The truth is that while both sides are trying to spin things their way, there's a difference in how each is talking about the sequester.
President Obama's principal argument is this: The sequester is a really bad thing, so Congress needs to stop it. He's out posing with first responders, detailing the cuts that will take place and the problems that will ensue, and generally trying to put pressure on Republicans to walk us back from this cliff. Does he want them to get the blame when it happens? Of course. But his main argument is about the practical consequences of the cuts, made in an attempt to avert the cuts from happening. Republicans, on the other hand, aren't spending much time talking about the consequences of the sequester. Yes, they'll decry the defense cuts, but that's almost throat-clearing before they get to their main argument, which is: This is all Barack Obama's fault. They created a Twitter hashtag, #Obamaquester, to make sure everyone knows whose fault it is. They're holding press conferences with that hashtag on big signs. The instruction has obviously gone out to every Republican that the most important thing to repeat when talking about this issue is that it was all Obama's idea, so there. John Boehner has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal going on at some length about how Republicans had nothing to do with it (Steve Benen does the yeoman's work of going through Boehner's piece line-by-line to document all the absurd falsehoods contained therein).
On the question of who's idea it was, the basic answer is that it appears it came from the White House initially. But the real answer is, who cares who thought of it first?