From Obama’s speech last night:

In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year.  These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness.  They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.  That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” are a really bad idea.

His spokesman earlier in the day:

JAY CARNEY: What I will concede is that we were looking and the Republicans were looking for a trigger around which to build a mechanism to get us out of default possibility and the sequester was one of the idea put forward, yes by the president’s team.