WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama is urging a divided Congress to boost job creation and strengthen the middle class through a package of government-backed proposals.
In his State of the Union address, Obama is calling for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more to fix the nation's roads and bridges, and expanding early childhood education.
The president is also pledging to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in half within a year.
Obama says his proposals would not increase the deficit "by a single dime." But with unemployment persistently high and consumer confidence falling, he is pressing a progressive case for Washington's role in reigniting the economy.
President Barack Obama is telling congressional Republicans that he is still willing to reduce the deficit but only with a mix of increased taxes and reduced spending, an offer he made during budget talks that collapsed at the end of last year. Republicans say they reject raising more tax revenue.
Obama is reiterating his proposal to reduce spending by $900 billion and increase taxes by $600 billion through a tax overhaul. The combined $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction would also reduce government payments on the debt. Obama intends to use some of those savings to pay for initiatives meant to create jobs.
The $900 billion in cuts include reductions of $400 billion in spending on Medicare and other health care programs.
Republicans say President Barack Obama's second-term agenda will bring more tax increases and deficit spending, hurting middle-class families at the expense of economic growth.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says in excerpts released ahead of his Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address that he hopes the president will "abandon his obsession with raising taxes" and try to grow the economy.
Rubio says the nation needs a balanced budget amendment to curb spending and says he won't support changes to Medicare that will hurt seniors like his mother.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in excerpts from his tea party response, says Washington acts in a way that your family never could - spending money it doesn't have and borrowing from future generations.