WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser said Sunday that the stars seem aligned for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul this year, but he sounded less confident about prospects for toughening the nation’s gun laws.
White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe made the rounds on Sunday talk shows, outlining the president’s agenda for the months ahead.
He said past presidents have been able to make significant progress during their second terms, noting that Ronald Reagan pushed through more tax cuts and that Bill Clinton helped transform budget deficits into surpluses.
Plouffe said Obama’s focus will be on improving the economy, saying the president believes the best way to do that is to invest in education and manufacturing while also seeking what he called ‘‘balanced deficit reduction.’’
Republicans agreed to let tax cuts expire this year for those workers whose incomes exceed $400,000 a year, but Plouffe said that future negotiations on reducing the deficit will have to include more tax revenue as well as spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.
‘‘We’ve dealt with the tax rate issue. Now it’s about loopholes,’’ Plouffe said on ABC’s “This Week.’’ ‘‘And I think the country would be well-served by tax and entitlement reform, because it’ll help our economy.’’
Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Sunday that Senate Democrats intend to approve a complete budget for the first time in almost four years, but he said it will call for higher tax revenues that Republicans are sure to oppose.
A look ahead
Schumer also said an announcement by House Republicans that they plan to approve a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing limit without demanding spending cuts was a ‘‘positive step.’’
Republican leaders insist that Senate Democrats give them the debate over the federal budget they have been denied for years. Since 2009, the Senate has approved individual appropriation bills but not a total budget.
Beyond the economy, Plouffe said that two social issues will be a focus at the outset of the president’s second term: immigration and gun control.
On gun control, he mixed statements of optimism with an acknowledgment of political realities. Republicans control the House, and even some Democrats in the Senate have been extremely cautious in addressing the issue.
‘‘It’s going to be very, very hard,’’ Plouffe said on CBS’s ‘‘Face the Nation.’’
Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming underscored that point. He said he doubted supporters could get 60 votes in the Senate for legislation allowing universal background checks for gun purchasers and for limiting gun magazines to 10 rounds.
‘‘The debt and spending. That’s where people are focused,’’ Barrasso said on CNN.
When it comes to overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, Plouffe said he believes there’s broader support from Republicans nationally than there is from Republicans in Congress.
Still, he said, ‘‘the stars are aligned’’ for a bill to include beefing up border security as well as giving those already in the United States illegally a path to citizenship.