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Obama says 'first order of business' in second term would be deficit

President Obama in a second interview has highlighted deficit reduction and immigration reform as issues he'd tackle in a second term. 

In an interview with MSNBC's Mika Brezezinski and Joe Scarborough, Obama said the "first order of business" would be deficit reduction, and that his administration would also focus on immigration. 

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Obama said the shadow of across-the-board spending cuts, which are set to begin in January under a deal last summer to raise the debt ceiling, would likely help Congress reach a deal on deficit reduction plans. Both Democrats and Republicans are interested in coming up with an alternative plan to those cuts. 

"Well, there’s no doubt that our first order of business is going to be to get our deficits and debt under control," Obama said in the interview, released Monday. "And the good thing is that there’s a forcing mechanism. The Bush tax cuts end at the end of the year. We know that we’ve got the sequester looming. That wouldn’t be the right thing to do things; that’s taking a machete to something as opposed to a scalpel.

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"And after the election, I think that both Democrats and Republicans have to step back and say, you know what, this is something the country wants to solve. If I’ve won then I believe that’s a mandate for doing it in a balanced way. We’ve already made a trillion dollar worth of cuts. We can do some more cuts. We can look at how to deal with the healthcare costs in particular on the Medicare and Medicaid in a serious way. But we are also going to need some revenue."

After deficit reduction, Obama said immigration reform would likely be something his administration would focus on. He said that reducing the deficit during the lame-duck session of Congress, "clears away a lot of the ideological underbrush" to focus on other issues like in immigration, infrastructure and education.

"So I think there are ways that we can do this in a creative way. But if we get that piece done, then immigration reform I think is there to get done," Obama said. He added that Republicans "can’t continue to alienate the fastest-growing segment of the country. And it’s the right thing to do."

Obama made similar comments in an interview with the Des Moines Register's editorial board that was released last week.

Obama said he would also like to see the creation of a Secretary of Business.

"I’ve said that I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA [the Small Business Administration] or helping companies with exports. There should be a one-stop shop," Obama said. "Now the reason we haven’t done that is not because of some big ideological difference; it has to do with Congress talking a good game about wanting to streamline government but being very protective about not giving up their jurisdiction over various pieces of government."