U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants Congress to avoid a series of what he called "harmful, automatic cuts" that would threaten thousands of Americans' jobs - called a sequester - if the politicians do not make changes to the country's budget by March 1.

Obama urged the lawmakers in his weekly address Saturday to make "sensible changes" to entitlement programs and the tax code to reach the $4 trillion deficit reduction needed to stabilize the country's economy.

The president said Congress has already cut the deficit by more than half with balanced spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.  He encouraged the politicians to make similar cuts by the March deadline.

Watch President Obama's weekly speech:

In the weekly Republican address, Senator Lisa Murkowski from the northern state of Alaska said  the U.S. is entering an era of energy abundance.  However, Murkowski said energy projects are too often held back "by burdensome regulations, delayed permits, and overzealous litigation."

Watch weekly Republican address: