House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wraps up a news conference on Capitol Hill, Washington, Feb. 26, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wraps up a news conference on Capitol Hill, Washington, Feb. 26, 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama is appealing for public support to stop $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to take effect Friday.

Obama told shipbuilding workers in Newport News, Virginia the cuts are "wrong," "not smart," "not fair," and a "self-inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen." He repeated his call for Congress to stop the cuts by approving tax changes.

"There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks.  And that's what's holding things up right now," he said.

President Barack Obama addressubg shipbuilders abo
President Barack Obama addressubg shipbuilders about automatic defense budget cuts, Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia, Feb. 26, 2013.

President Obama spoke Tuesday at the state of Virginia's largest industrial employer, Newport News Shipbuilding, which would be affected by cuts to naval spending.

The president has called for Republicans to accept a plan by Senate Democrats to raise revenue by ending certain tax exemptions for wealthy Americans and corporations.  But there has been no sign of formal negotiations.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, had harsh words for the Democrats Tuesday, saying the House has passed two bills that have seen no action from the Senate.

"We have moved a bill in the House twice.  We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," he said.

Republicans are opposed to raising more government revenue, following a recent deal with Democrats that raised income-tax rates on the wealthy. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, says the Republicans' idea for a spending cuts-only approach to deficit reduction will harm the economy and punish the poor and vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, Republicans would rather let devastating cuts go into effect than close a single wasteful tax loophole. They would rather cut Medicare, education, medical research than ask a single millionaire to pay a single dollar more in taxes,” he said.

President Obama might also discuss the budget issue Tuesday with leading Senate Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, during talks on immigration reform.