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Obama Launches Campaign to Gain Support for Tax Plan

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

File photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

When asked during the campaign to reflect on his biggest mistake of his first term, President Obama said it was putting policy-making ahead of storytelling.

“The mistake of my first term — couple of years — was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important,” Mr. Obama told CBS News last July. “But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”

The president appears to have taken his own advice to heart as he prepares to launch the latest effort in his public relations offensive to convince those inside and outside the Beltway to get behind his approach to avoiding the looming fiscal cliff.

Mr. Obama will deliver remarks Wednesday morning at a White House event featuring middle-class Americans. He will renew his call for Congress to approve a package that keeps tax rates where they are for families earning less than $250,000 a year. The White House is urging supporters on Twitter to use the hashtag My2K, which stands for the estimated $2,200 tax increase a typical middle-class family would see if the Bush tax cuts expire.

The president will also sit down Wednesday afternoon with business executives to discuss steps to reduce the deficit and improve the economy.

Bloomberg News reports that Mr. Obama had an unannounced meeting with financial services executives the Friday before Thanksgiving, the same day he welcomed congressional leaders to the White House for the first round of face-to-face talks.

As we mentioned in this space Tuesday, the president will also hit the road Friday, visiting a toy company outside Philadelphia in hopes of drumming up support for his plan to prevent the combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases from taking effect in January.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted the proposed trip as a return to the campaign trail and urged the president to focus on leading negotiations in Washington.

“Let me suggest that if the president wants a solution to the challenges of the moment, the people he needs to be talking to are the members of his own party, so he can convince them of the need to act,” McConnell said Tuesday on the floor of the Senate. “We’re not going to solve this problem by creating villains and drumming up outrage. We’ll solve this problem by doing the hard work of sitting down and figuring out a solution that involves tough choices on all sides.”

The biggest hurdle to a solution remains how to deal with the Bush-era tax rates for the most affluent Americans. A handful of Republican lawmakers have expressed a willingness in recent days to make additional revenue part of the equation by closing loopholes and deductions, but they have balked at raising rates.

Politico’s Jonathan Allen reports that Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., urged his colleagues Tuesday to consider another way forward:

“I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” he said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2 percent of earners. “It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don’t.”

Instead, he told POLITICO, Republicans should fight the president over tax rates for the top earners after everyone else is taken care of. That would rob the president of the argument that Republicans are holding up tax cuts for all but the top earners, Cole said.

Other Republicans, meanwhile, have kept a hard line when it comes to the tax issue. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., told Jeffrey Brown on Tuesday’s NewsHour that Mr. Obama’s approach would not address the deficit in a significant way.

“This seems to be a political activity by the president, not something that actually solves the problem,” Price said. “We’re interested in real solutions. So, when we’re talking with the other side, what we want to make certain is that what we’re discussing are real solutions, things that will actually get us rolling again, get the economy rolling again, get jobs created.”

Appearing with Price, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota said lawmakers need to look at both closing loopholes and raising rates. He also rejected reforms to entitlements that would “cut benefits” to those on Medicare and Medicaid.

“Making the most vulnerable people in our society bear the burden of this fiscal problem that we’re in right now I think is unfair. And it really wouldn’t help our economy much,” Ellison said.

Watch the segment here or below:


  • Jackie Calmes of the New York Times looks at the nationwide tour of federal debt superstars Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.

  • Wednesday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA looks at the extra money American workers get from the two-year payroll tax break.

  • Jonathan Martin of Politico reports that Virginia GOP Lt. Governor Bill Bolling will drop out of the gubernatorial race Wednesday morning, essentially clearing the way for a face off in 2013 between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

  • Warren Buffett talks with Marketplace Morning Report’s Jeremy Hobson on the fiscal cliff and optimism about the American economy.

  • Conservative tax reform leader Grover Norquist writes in The Hill how Republicans should handle the fiscal cliff.

  • Reuters wraps up Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice and the congressional leaders who have criticized her statements after the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others said her answers in the meeting left them “troubled.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., defends her in a statement, and Jon Huntsman tells the Huffington Post that Rice’s statements were part of the “fog of war.”

  • The U.S. attorney general’s office and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee may settle the lawsuit on the release of information related to “Fast and Furious.”

  • AIDS activists fearing budget cuts disrobed in the lobby of House Speaker John Boehner’s office.

  • Outgoing Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas have proposed a bill that would allow undocumented young people who grew up in the U.S. permanent residency. The Wall Street Journal calls the legislation largely symbolic.

  • Research led by the Harvard Institute of Politics finds state governments’ debt totals more than $7 trillion, with a majority of that debt not reported on financial statements. The states spend the most money on Medicaid, a program that has taken away expenditures in other budget categories, including K-12 education, the report finds.

  • The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already ramping up for 2014.

  • Bob Dole is in the hospital but should be released Wednesday.


  • NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman peeks into the history of debt in America, starting with a Boston Tea Party re-enactment, and asks what would happen if we barreled over the edge.

Watch the story here or below:

  • Mr. Obama met Tuesday with Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto. The NewsHour revisited statements Nieto made on the drug war last summer and discussed the issues he’ll face as he takes office.


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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