President Barack Obama will spend a large part of his State of the Union address Tuesday night arguing against automatic spending cuts and for a debt reduction package that balances targeted cuts and higher taxes, according to The Hill newspaper
The speech will continue an argument the president has been making in recent days in opposition to possible sequestration cuts, reports The Hill, citing White House sources.
Obama is expected to argue that the economy will be damaged if the first round of automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion goes ahead as scheduled on March 1, and that Republicans could end up being blamed for it.
The president also is expected to speak about jobs and the economy, and to highlight his plans for dealing with the deficit.
For the past two years, he has argued for new spending to spur the economy, while seeking spending cuts and tax hikes. But The Hill noted that in his radio address last Saturday, Obama made comments signaling his intention to take a hard line against Republicans and their demands for trimming entitlements.
In his radio comments, Obama noted that the White House and Congress have “cut our deficit by more than $2.5 trillion” through spending cuts and higher taxes for households earning more than $450,000.
The Congressional Budget Office reports that the deficit is indeed shrinking this year from $1 trillion to $845 billion, and will fall further by 2015 to $430 billion. But the same CBO report predicts that soaring healthcare costs and the aging population will bring higher entitlement spending, with budget deficits approaching $1 trillion again by 2023.
For their part, Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have continued to insist it would be better for the sequester to take place than it would be to introduce more tax hikes.
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