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USA TODAY - President Obama has spent this year talking about debt reduction, gun control, climate change, and immigration, but Tuesday's State of the Union address is expected to focus on the issues that brought him to power: Jobs and the economy.
"I'm going to be talking about making sure that we're focused on job creation here in the United States of America," Obama told House Democrats last week.
Obama and aides say he will also discuss upcoming budget disputes, including the March 1 deadline for automatic defense and domestic cuts totaling $85 billion, known as "the sequester."
The president, elected in 2008 in the midst of an economic crisis, said he will again call for a debt reduction agreement that includes targeted budget cuts as well as new tax revenues to be garnered by ending certain loopholes and deductions.
The nation not only needs to reduce its $16 trillion-plus debt, Obama has said, but it needs money to invest in things that can create jobs and build the middle class, including education, infrastructure, and clean energy programs.
The president's annual State of Union address to a joint session of Congress is on Tuesday night.
The event comes less than two weeks after the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had ticked back up to 7.9%.
Obama will also likely use the speech to put political pressure on Republicans over the budget.
In his Saturday radio address, Obama said current GOP plans to avoid the sequester focus on cuts that affect mainly "seniors and middle-class families. They would rather ask more from the vast majority of Americans and put our recovery at risk than close even a single tax loophole that benefits the wealthy."
Republicans said Obama got higher taxes -- in the form of higher income tax rates -- as part of the fiscal cliff deal in early January; now the emphasis should be on spending cuts.
"The president accepted no spending cuts back in the fiscal cliff deal 45 days ago," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okl., speaking on ABC's This Week. "So you get no spending cuts back then, then you're going to get no revenue now."
In his State of the Union, Obama also plans to discuss the aforementioned topic of gun control, climate change, and immigration, and talk about how many of those items can help rebuild the economy and promote jobs.
Investment in the clean energy industry, for example, will help address climate change, Obama and aides have said.
A legislative package to address gun violence is designed to protect young people, Obama told last week's House Democratic retreat.
While regional differences on gun control should be respected, Obama said "themajority of responsible gun owners recognize we cannot have a situation in which 20 more of our children, or a 100 more of our children, or a 1,000 more of our children are shot and killed in a senseless fashion, and that there are some common-sense steps that we can take and build a consensus around."
Revamping the immigration system -- including a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- will also help the economy, Obama said.
"Obviously economic growth is a priority," he said. "But making sure that we're opening up opportunity for everybody is also important. And that's why immigration reform is so critical."
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