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Let the Sequester Slugfest Begin

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The president and Republicans ratcheted up the sequester debate on Tuesday as automatic spending cuts kick in March 1 if Congress doesn't act.

President Barack Obama emerged Tuesday afternoon to ask legislators to find tens of billions of dollars in spending cuts for the near-term in order to avoid the automatic cuts put in place in 2011 so as to help reduce the country's deficit.

"Our economy right now is headed in the right direction and will stay that way as long as there aren't any self-inflicted wounds coming out of Washington," Obama said in a press conference.

The president suggested the need for a balanced approached to deficit reduction by proposing spending cuts and new tax revenue, but Republicans preceded the president's expected statement on Tuesday with their own rebuttals.

"Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also jabbed at the president's call to delay a full sequester.

"If Democrats have ideas for smarter cuts, they should bring them up for debate. But the American people will not support more tax hikes in place of the meaningful spending reductions both parties already agreed to and the president signed into law," McConnell said in a statement issued by his office.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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