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'Fiscal cliff': Has Obama overdone the PR? (+video)

It's possible, especially to folks paying close attention to fiscal cliff negotiations. But with polls showing support for tax hikes on the wealthy, he appears to be leveraging public opinion effectively.

By Staff writer / December 6, 2012

High school English teacher Tiffany Santana listens at left as President Obama speaks to the media during a visit with middle class taxpayers to discuss the importance of extending income tax cuts for Americans and small businesses, Thursday, Dec. 6, in Falls Church, Va.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Meet Tiffany Santana and her family: She’s a high school English teacher; her husband, Richard, is a porter at a local Toyota dealership; her mom is a child-care provider; and her dad is a postal worker.

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This extended family – including the Santanas’ 6-year-old son, Noah – shares an apartment in northern Virginia. On Thursday, when President Obama came to visit, they became the face of middle-class America as he seeks to maintain the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the wealthy while negotiating to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

“They're keeping it together, they're working hard, they're meeting their responsibilities,” Mr. Obama said at their Fairfax, Va., home. “You know, for them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren't coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs in very personal terms."

FISCAL CLIFF 101: 5 basic questions answered

If the Bush tax cuts expire on Dec. 31, the average middle-class family of four would pay an additional $2,200 in income taxes. To Ms. Santana and her family, that’s a month’s rent, she explains in a video put out by the White House.

Another day, another bully-pulpit moment choreographed by a White House determined to see tax rates go up for the top 2 percent of taxpayers. And that sound of gnashing teeth you hear is Republicans expressing frustration that they are getting beat again and again in the public-relations game around the looming fiscal cliff – $607 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that go into effect at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act.

"The president has to show up and negotiate,” Rep. Charles Boustany (R) of Louisiana told CNN on Wednesday. “He needs to quit running around the country, sit down across the table from the speaker, get the Senate majority leader in the room, and they need to start working.”

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