Obama asks Congress to soften budget cuts, trim deficit

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 5, 2013 1:40pm EST

WASHINGTON Feb 5 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to avoid deep spending cuts with a stopgap bill and said he is committed to cutting the nation's deficit to manageable levels over the long term.

Obama said uncertainty over the automatic across-the-board cuts - known as sequestration - has stunted economic growth and has the potential to do further damage.

A round of deep cuts would kick in March 1 unless Congress acts, and the president asked lawmakers to pass a modest bill that would blunt the impact of the reductions for several months to allow time to produce a broader package to address the deficit.

Obama said he remains committed to achieve the full $4 trillion in deficit reduction seen as necessary to bring the nation's sea of red ink under control. But he insisted that deficit reduction come in part from tax reforms.

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A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

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