President Barack Obama says there's no way to make automatic budget cuts less damaging by giving him the authority to decide what to cut.

President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Obama says at a shipbuilding site in Virginia that there's no smart way to cut $85 billion from the budget in seven months. He says the country shouldn't be choosing which poor kids should get services or which shipyards should close.

Senate Republicans have suggested giving Obama the flexibility to decide which programs and government functions to cut, instead of letting across-the-board cuts kick in Friday.

Obama is singling out for praise Republicans who have expressed openness to including new revenues from closing loopholes in a deal to avert the cuts.

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