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Jan 29, 8:07 PM EST

Obama to Democrats: Time to end budget austerity

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling for an end to the automatic spending cuts that have reduced money for domestic and defense programs. He says the cuts triggered by a 2011 budget act don't "differentiate between smart government spending and dumb government spending."

Obama also told a gathering of Democratic lawmakers that he welcomed Republicans who are talking about addressing income inequality and poverty. In a reference to Mitt Romney, Obama said: "We've got a former presidential candidate on the other side who suddenly is just deeply concerned about poverty. That's great."

He said imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Obama was speaking and taking questions at the House Democratic Issues Conference.

The White House is releasing the administration's budget on Monday.

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