WASHINGTON — An $85 billion dollar austerity time bomb was to detonate against the U.S. economy Friday, as President Barack Obama blamed a Republican refusal to compromise for a failure to avert "dumb" spending cuts.

The slashing reductions in domestic and defense spending, brought on by deep ideological differences between Obama and top Republicans, threaten to further slow tepid economic growth and could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Obama blamed the impasse on Republicans, who had refused to close tax loopholes used by the rich and corporations to add to more targeted spending cuts, in what he calls a "balanced" approach to deficit reduction.

"I am not a dictator. I'm the president," Obama said, warning he could not force his Republican foes to "do the right thing,” or make the Secret Service barricade Republicans leaders in a room until a deal is done.

"These cuts will hurt our economy, will cost us jobs and to set it right both sides need to be able to compromise," Obama said, before decrying the budget trimming as "dumb" and "unnecessary."

Mixing the imagery of science fiction movies Star Wars and Star Trek, Obama also bemoaned his inability to perform a "Jedi mind-meld" to get Republicans to change their minds.

Obama was bound by law to initiate the automatic, indiscriminate cuts, which could wound the already fragile economy, cost a million jobs and harm military readiness, by 11.59 pm.

The hit to military and domestic spending, known as the sequester, was never supposed to happen, but was rather a device seen as so punishing that rival lawmakers would be forced to find a better compromise to cut the deficit.

Both sides agree that the sequester is a blunt instrument to cut spending, as it does not distinguish between essential and wasteful programs — in what Obama has branded a "meat-cleaver" approach.

The president appeared irritated but combative as he spoke to reporters after a deadline day meeting with his chief foes, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell and allies, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid and House Democrat Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office.

Boehner emerged from the talks to signal to reporters that Republicans would not budge on Obama's key demand for a deal which would raise tax revenues.