(CBS NEWS) -- President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday is
expected to focus on economic revitalization in America, according to
But Mr. Obama's account of the U.S.
economic recovery will carry with it an asterisk: the automatic spending
cuts of the so-called sequester, due to land at the beginning of March,
could deal severe a severe blow to the economy. And less than three
weeks out from the onset of sequestration, there is no resolution in
Based on the punchy performance of several key
congressional players on the Sunday political talk shows, the parties
remain deeply divided on the best path to avert the sequester, with
disputes over spending, taxation, and entitlement reform threatening to
scuttle any eventual deal.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., laid down the gauntlet
on "Fox News Sunday", saying that Congress must act to avert the
sequester - but not if it means cutting too deeply into Democratic
"It's almost a false argument to
say we have a spending problem," she said, pointing to cuts in
agriculture subsidies and the 2011 Budget Control Act that slashed
hundreds of billions of dollars from discretionary spending. "We've had
plenty of spending cuts...what we do need is more revenue and more
"What I would like to see...is a big, balanced,
bold proposal" to reduce the deficit, she said. "Short of that, we must
do something to avoid the sequester."
suggestion echoed the president's weekly address over the weekend, in
which he called on Congress to pass "balanced cuts and close more tax
loopholes until they can find a way to replace the sequester with a
smarter, longer-term solution."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaking on NBC's "Meet the
Press", would not accept Democrats' calls for more revenue. "Every time
you turn around," Cantor said, the Democrats' "answer is to raise
The president "just got his tax hike on the
wealthy," Cantor said, referring to the recent "fiscal cliff" deal that
allowed taxes to rise on personal income in excess of $400,000. "You
can't, in this town, turn around and raise taxes every three months.
Again, every time, that's his response."
"The House has
put forward an alternative plan, and there's been no response" from
Democrats, Cantor said. "The bottom line is we want tax reform, but we
want to plug those loopholes that the president talks about, to bring
down tax rates, because we believe that's pro growth...the president's
not talking about that. He's talking about raising more taxes to spend."
Tom Cole, R-Okla., seconded Cantor on ABC's "This Week", saying
Republicans would "absolutely not" agree to new revenue as part of a
Cole, who angered some conservatives by
counseling Republicans to accede to tax hikes for the wealthy during the
"fiscal cliff" negotiations, was notably inflexible on the question of
raising more revenue. "The president accepted no spending cuts back in
the fiscal cliff deal 45 days ago," he said. "So you get no spending
cuts back then, then you're going to get no revenue now."
But despite the anti-tax rigidity voiced by some Republicans, others
kept their options open. On "Fox News Sunday", Sen. John McCain,
R-Ariz., refused to rule out the possibility that a deal to avoid the
sequester could include more revenue.
"We've got to avoid it, we've got to stop it," McCain said of the sequester. "Would I look at some revenue closers? Maybe so."
that doesn't mean he would be happy about it. "We've already just
raised taxes. Why do we have to raise taxes again?" he asked.
also blasted what he saw as presidential disengagement on the issue.
"What I would like to see is the president call the leaders over to the
White House and say, 'Look, we've got to solve this problem," he said.
"All he does is go out and make speeches."
at least, the president will have no choice but to "go out and make
speeches." And after Tuesday, more speeches: the president will hit the
road, campaign-style, traveling to Asheville, N.C., Atlanta and Chicago
to sell the economic proposals he will lay out Tuesday night.
his economic message, Mr. Obama is also expected to use the State of
the Union to lobby for his three biggest second-term agenda items:
immigration reform, climate change, and gun control.
control, in particular, will be one of the most closely watched themes
of the president's address. More than 20 House Democrats have announced
that they will bring people affected by gun violence as guests to the
address. And on Saturday, CBS News learned that former Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly will attend the speech as guests of
Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz. Giffords has emerged as
one of the faces of gun violence in America after being shot in the head
and nearly killed during a mass shooting in Arizona two years ago.
official response to the State of the Union will be delivered by rising
conservative star Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is expected to stress
limited government and free enterprise as the keys to economic recovery.