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US Lawmakers Speak Out Ahead of Key Obama Address

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (L) pictured here with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington in a December 18, 2012, file photo.
U.S. lawmakers of both major political parties agree President Barack Obama should focus on America’s economic challenges and fiscal woes in his State of the Union address Tuesday. But they differ sharply on the proposals they want Obama to put forward.

Republican legislators say President Obama must confront out-of-control federal spending. Specifically, they want the president to propose targeted budget reductions to replace automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will go into effect next month if Congress does not act.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press program.

“These are indiscriminate cuts. We can do a lot better. And what I hope to be able to hear from the president in the State of the Union [address], is [that] he wants to join us in trying to effect much smarter cuts in spending.”

The automatic cuts, known as sequestration, would be divided evenly between national security and domestic programs. President Obama has called for a mix of spending reductions and revenue enhancements to match the sequestration’s deficit reduction target.

Democrats call this a “balanced approach” to improving America’s fiscal health - one that would preserve federal investments in education and other priority areas.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared on Fox News Sunday.

“Nothing brings more money to the Treasury of the United States than investment in education of the American people. So we have to recognize that - which cuts really help us and which cuts hurt our future.”

Democrats want tax deductions enjoyed by wealthy Americans curbed or eliminated to bring in additional revenue. But many Republicans oppose raising taxes. Republican Senator John McCain also spoke on Fox News Sunday.

“I do not want to see taxes increased. What I would like to see is the president call [congressional] leaders over to the White House and say, ‘Look, we have to solve this problem.”

While hardened partisan battle lines have been drawn on fiscal matters, there are other issues in which the possibility of compromise between Democrats and Republicans seems less remote: including reforming America’s immigration system and strengthening the regulation of gun sales.