THE MORNING LINE -- April 18, 2011 at 8:09 AM ET
President Obama Hits the Road to Sell Deficit Reduction Plan
President Obama has called for reducing the deficit by cutting spending and raising taxes on the wealthy. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.
President Obama put forward a plan last week to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. Now he has to sell it to the American people.
With that goal in mind, the president will hit the road this week for a series of town hall events designed to rally support around his plan to cut spending and raise taxes on the wealthy.
President Obama will preview his message Monday in four interviews with local news channels: KCNC Denver, WRAL Raleigh, WFAA Dallas and WTHR Indianapolis.
It should come as no great shock to anyone that three of the four appearances are with stations in battleground states that the president won in 2008 (Colorado, North Carolina and Indiana) and whose electoral votes he'd love to have again in 2012.
Look for the president to also talk with WRAL about how the federal government is assisting North Carolina residents following this weekend's string of destructive tornadoes.
All four interviews will be done from the Map Room at the White House.
The road show begins Tuesday just outside Washington at the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale.
The president will also hold deficit reduction events at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., on Wednesday and Reno, Nev., on Thursday.
The campaign-style push less than a week after the president released his plan shows the urgency in shaping the debate.
As he did in his speech Wednesday, at every stop this week President Obama will contrast his vision for deficit reduction with that of Rep. Paul Ryan's, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, who has a proposal on the table to reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion over the next decade.
The Republican-controlled House passed Rep. Ryan's budget plan Friday with no Democratic votes. The measure would cut spending by $5.8 trillion, extend all of the tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush and make sweeping reforms to Medicare and Medicaid.
In his speech last week the president said Rep. Ryan's proposal offered a "deeply pessimistic" vision for the country's future.
Rep. Ryan countered Sunday in an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that it was the president's plan that would so serious harm to the country. "Raising tax rates on anybody, especially successful small businesses, slows down the economy, loses jobs. And if you have lower economic growth, you have less revenues, and it puts you further behind," Rep. Ryan said. "We want more tax revenues, but we want to get it by expanding job creation, by expanding economic growth."
All this comes as lawmakers ready for another major fiscal fight when they return from their two-week recess in May: raising the debt ceiling. Leaders in both parties agree the limit that the federal government can borrow must be lifted above its current $14.3 trillion mark, but they differ on whether spending cuts should be part of that approach.
New quarterly fund-raising numbers are out for House re-election campaigns, and more than a handful of the freshman Republican members in competitive districts so far have lackluster war chests.
A National Journal analysis of Federal Election Committee data shows that while the 87 freshman Republicans raised an average of $180,000, at least three members in competitive races raised less than $100,000 and ten raised less than $150,000. The Washington Post put the GOP freshman average at $176,000 and compared that to the $287,000 average by freshman Democrats in the first quarter of 2009.
From the National Journal:
"The weakest totals came from Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.), who raised a paltry $30,000 -- a total less than the inactive account of the congressman he defeated, Democrat Alan Grayson. New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle raised just $65,000. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), currently representing one of the most Democratic seats held by a Republican, raised just $106,000. Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.),already facing the same Democratic challenger who nearly defeated him amid a GOP headwind, brought in just $120,000."
The Post also points out that many GOP freshmen may not need that much money for their campaigns because they're in conservative districts won back from the Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008.
With Congress on a two-week break, House and Senate leaders are traveling across the world to survey America's interests.
House Speaker John Boehner, R--Ohio, was in Baghdad this weekend with five other House members -- Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Mike Conaway, R-Texas; Tom Rooney R-Fla.; Joe Heck R-Nev.; and Dan Boren D-Okla. They met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ambassador James Jeffrey, according to Rep. Boehner's office. A statement from the House speaker said the group was able to see progress made by American forces in controlling the Iraqi insurgency.
A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is touring China. The group will meet with Chinese government officials to discuss clean energy, trade issues, currency, foreign policy and human rights, according to a release from Senate Democrats. The group will travel to Chengdu, Beijing and Xi'An.
Sen. Reid will be joined by Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
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