Economy to be Obama's focus in State of the Union Associated Press Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Updated 8:01 am, Saturday, February 9, 2013 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will focus his State of the Union address on boosting job creation and economic growth at a time of high unemployment, underscoring the degree to which the economy could threaten his ability to pursue second-term priorities such as gun control, immigration policy and climate change. Obama said he would try to accomplish that by calling for improvements in education, boosting clean energy production, and reducing the deficit in ways that don't burden the middle class, the poor or the elderly. Republicans favor spending cuts; Obama prefers a combination of spending cuts and increasing tax revenue. The White House and Congress have pushed back the automatic cuts once, and Obama wants to do it again in order to create an opening for a larger deficit reduction deal. [...] the unemployment rate is persistently high at 7.9 percent, economic growth slowed last quarter and consumer confidence is falling, so the economy could upend Obama's plans to pursue a broader domestic agenda in his final four years in office. Obama is expected to use his address to press lawmakers to back his immigration overhaul, which includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, and his gun control proposals, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Vice President Joe Biden recently told a security conference in Germany that Obama probably would use the State of the Union to discuss "advancing a comprehensive nuclear agenda to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, reduce global stockpiles and secure nuclear materials."

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