'Fiscal cliff': Obama, Republicans revert to campaign mode

President Obama met with small-business owners Tuesday, meets with middle-class Americans and business leaders Wednesday. Republicans, too, are orchestrating meetings, as both sides vie to win public's support for their approach to resolving the fiscal cliff crisis.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
President Barack Obama speaks about the Thanksgiving holiday in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. The White House said Tuesday that the president plans to make a public case this week for his strategy for dealing with the looming fiscal cliff.

Three weeks after winning reelection, President Obama is returning to the campaign trail. But instead of stumping for himself, he’s pushing for tax hikes on the wealthy, in the name of deficit reduction.   

The president’s trip Friday to a toy factory in suburban Philadelphia will cap a week of outreach to various constituencies on issues around the “fiscal cliff” –the broad tax increases and spending cuts that kick in with the new year if Congress doesn’t act.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama met at the White House with small-business owners from across the country, and his economists released a report saying a tax increase on the middle class would harm small businesses. On Wednesday, the president hosts two events – one with middle-class Americans, another with business leaders. The point of all three meetings is to highlight how these groups would be affected by an expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.

Congressional Republicans have decided they can play the game, too. On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican congressional leaders meet with business leaders. Next week, House majority whip Kevin McCarthy will host a meeting of small-business owners at the Capitol, his office announced.

Republicans say many small-business owners would be hurt by Obama’s plan for a tax increase on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans – those making more than $250,000 a year.

Still, there’s no competing with the presidential bully pulpit and the media coverage it brings.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said Tuesday the president should spend more time negotiating in Washington and less time campaigning.

“We already know the president's a very good campaigner.... What we don't know is if he has the leadership qualities to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on big issues," Senator McConnell said. "The people he needs to be talking to are members of his own party so he can convince them of the need to act."

At his daily briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney rejected McConnell’s criticism, saying it is “vitally important” that Americans actively engage in the debate over how best to deal with the nation’s fiscal challenges.

“I think the election was pretty conclusive in terms of which path a majority of the American people want to take” on fiscal issues, Mr. Carney said. “That is, a balanced approach, one that includes not just spending cuts, not just entitlement reforms and savings, but revenue.”

Progressive activists with MoveOn.org Political Action are also getting into the act. The group announced that on Wednesday, tens of thousands of members will deliver letters to state and district offices of every senator and House member in the country, calling for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest top 2 percent and for “no cuts whatsoever” to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed the risks for Republicans if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1.  Some 45 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans if the tax increases and spending cuts go into effect, while 34 percent say they would blame Obama. Still, almost half of Americans say the president isn’t doing enough to reach a deal with the Republicans, and 7 in 10 want him to compromise, CNN reports.  

If the US goes over the fiscal cliff, the global economy could go into recession, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report Tuesday.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.