Obama sticks to old pledge on fiscal cliff

Obama taking case to American people

An angry warning by President Barack Obama delivered well over a year ago foreshadowed his campaign-style approach Wednesday to pressuring Republicans to compromise on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

In July 2011, Obama told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, one of the lead Republican negotiators in the endless budget battles of president's first term, that it was time to make a deal or face the consequences.

"Don't call my bluff," the president said in ending the White House meeting, according to Cantor. "I'm going to the American people with this."

Obama subsequently held a series of events around the country, mostly in swing states of the November election, in which he pushed for higher taxes on the wealthy as part of his main campaign theme to restore equal opportunity for the middle class.

He won re-election, and, faced again with the same fiscal issues -- a seemingly unbridgeable divide with Republicans over taxes and spending -- Obama is again taking his case to the people.

Failure to reach a deal means tax increases and deep spending cuts take effect in five weeks -- the fiscal cliff scenario that analysts fear could push the country back into recession.

On Wednesday, Obama meets with the chief executives of major corporations, while congressional Republicans and Democrats will talk separately with deficit-reduction gurus, including former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and Maya MacGuinneas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group advocating fiscal reform.

The president also will meet with those described by the White House as middle-class Americans who face a major impact from the fiscal cliff -- higher taxes and automatic reductions in military and discretionary federal spending at the end of the year.

Obama concludes the week with a trip Friday to Hatfield, Pa., to visit a manufacturing operation and deliver a speech.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner's office announced Tuesday that congressional Republicans will hold a series of events in Washington and home districts across the country withsmall business owners to frame Obama's tax policy as a threat to new jobs.

The series of events on both sides showed the high-profile tactics being used to demonstrate to the nation, including financial markets, that a deal can happen.

Stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors grew increasingly concerned about whether Congress can adequately and swiftly address the situation.

With the U.S. economy showing more signs of improvement in its long recovery from recession, economists point to fears about higher taxes in 2013 as a potential threat to rising consumer confidence.

Asked why Obama was meeting with business leaders and traveling to Pennsylvania instead of negotiating directly with Republicans in Congress, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday it was important to bring the broader American public into the discussion.

The fiscal cliff resulted from a failure to reach a deficit reduction agreement in the past two years due to longstanding differences between Democrats and Republicans on taxes -- particularly whether to extend tax cuts from President George W. Bush's administration.

Obama made the issue a central theme of his election campaign, and now the White House believes the president's re-election validated his call for including more tax revenue in addressing the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.

"This topic was perhaps the most debated, the most discussed, the most analyzed, for a year," Carney told reporters, adding that the election result showed Americans supported Obama's approach.

"To suggest that we should, now that the election's over, stop talking to the American people about these vital issues is, I think, bad advice," Carney said.

Last week, Obama's former campaign manager, Jim Messina, said the president's re-election campaign and its grass-roots resources will "live on," most likely as a tool to promote the president's second-term policies.

Obama for America, the name of the campaign, already released an email to its distribution list in an attempt to educate readers on the president's fiscal cliff argument and to rally supporters behind him.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky complained that Obama was "back on the campaign trail" instead of "sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement."

"We already know the president is a very good campaigner," McConnell said on the Senate floor. " ... What we don't know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on big issues like we currently face."

Obama wants to let tax rates for income over $250,000 for families or $200,000 for individuals return to higher 1990s levels, while maintaining current rates for the rest of the country. He contends his plan would prevent a tax hike for 98 percent of Americans.

Republicans seeking to shrink the size of government oppose

An angry warning by President Barack Obama delivered well over a year ago foreshadowed his campaign-style approach Wednesday to pressuring Republicans to compromise on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

In July 2011, Obama told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, one of the lead Republican negotiators in the endless budget battles of president's first term, that it was time to make a deal or face the consequences.

"Don't call my bluff," the president said in ending the White House meeting, according to Cantor. "I'm going to the American people with this."

Obama subsequently held a series of events around the country, mostly in swing states of the November election, in which he pushed for higher taxes on the wealthy as part of his main campaign theme to restore equal opportunity for the middle class.

He won re-election, and, faced again with the same fiscal issues -- a seemingly unbridgeable divide with Republicans over taxes and spending -- Obama is again taking his case to the people.

Failure to reach a deal means tax increases and deep spending cuts take effect in five weeks -- the fiscal cliff scenario that analysts fear could push the country back into recession.

On Wednesday, Obama meets with the chief executives of major corporations, while congressional Republicans and Democrats will talk separately with deficit-reduction gurus, including former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and Maya MacGuinneas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group advocating fiscal reform.

The president also will meet with those described by the White House as middle-class Americans who face a major impact from the fiscal cliff -- higher taxes and automatic reductions in military and discretionary federal spending at the end of the year.

Obama concludes the week with a trip Friday to Hatfield, Pa., to visit a manufacturing operation and deliver a speech.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner's office announced Tuesday that congressional Republicans will hold a series of events in Washington and home districts across the country withsmall business owners to frame Obama's tax policy as a threat to new jobs.

The series of events on both sides showed the high-profile tactics being used to demonstrate to the nation, including financial markets, that a deal can happen.

Stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors grew increasingly concerned about whether Congress can adequately and swiftly address the situation.

With the U.S. economy showing more signs of improvement in its long recovery from recession, economists point to fears about higher taxes in 2013 as a potential threat to rising consumer confidence.

Asked why Obama was meeting with business leaders and traveling to Pennsylvania instead of negotiating directly with Republicans in Congress, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday it was important to bring the broader American public into the discussion.

The fiscal cliff resulted from a failure to reach a deficit reduction agreement in the past two years due to longstanding differences between Democrats and Republicans on taxes -- particularly whether to extend tax cuts from President George W. Bush's administration.

Obama made the issue a central theme of his election campaign, and now the White House believes the president's re-election validated his call for including more tax revenue in addressing the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.

"This topic was perhaps the most debated, the most discussed, the most analyzed, for a year," Carney told reporters, adding that the election result showed Americans supported Obama's approach.

"To suggest that we should, now that the election's over, stop talking to the American people about these vital issues is, I think, bad advice," Carney said.

Last week, Obama's former campaign manager, Jim Messina, said the president's re-election campaign and its grass-roots resources will "live on," most likely as a tool to promote the president's second-term policies.

Obama for America, the name of the campaign, already released an email to its distribution list in an attempt to educate readers on the president's fiscal cliff argument and to rally supporters behind him.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky complained that Obama was "back on the campaign trail" instead of "sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement."

"We already know the president is a very good campaigner," McConnell said on the Senate floor. " ... What we don't know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on big issues like we currently face."

Obama wants to let tax rates for income over $250,000 for families or $200,000 for individuals return to higher 1990s levels, while maintaining current rates for the rest of the country. He contends his plan would prevent a tax hike for 98 percent of Americans.

Republicans seeking to shrink the size of government oppose

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