Democrats and Republicans are talking past each other when it comes to reversing $500 billion in automatic defense cuts set for Jan. 1, despite an increasingly loud push to cancel them.

Lawmakers in both parties say the automatic cuts through sequestration cannot take effect, and that they want them to be undone now. But even if both sides agree that sequestration cannot stand, the two parties remain unwilling to budge an inch on the $1.2 trillion-pound gorilla that stands in the way: taxes.

The partisan disconnect played out on Thursday in dueling public appearances.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) led a group of seven Republican senators in a Capitol Hill news conference who warned of devastating consequences if Congress did not act soon, and McCain said the GOP was “stretching out our hand” to sit down and negotiate with Democrats.