The election might be over, but the urge to campaign still burns inside President Obama.
Obama, who received a tepid response from congressional leaders about his ideas on solving the so-called “fiscal cliff” will make some campaign-style appearances this week, seeking support from the public for his proposal to keep tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
Obama is hoping supporters will then apply pressure to elected officials and create movement in what has been a long impasse between him and congressional Republicans who favor spending cuts over revenue (tax) hikes.
“Engaging the public on these sometimes-chewy policy debates is important because they care,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “And they have a deep stake in the outcome of the debate, so we’ll continue to do that.”
Deficit Campaign Begins Now
Obama’s effort started today in a meeting with a group of small business owners in Washington, D.C., and will pick up Wednesday when he speaks to a group of what White House officials call “middle-class Americans” about the looming effects on them if no action is taken to dodge the fiscal cliff.
On Friday, Obama takes his campaign to a toymaker factory in Pennsylvania, where he will talk about the tax hike facing most Americans if Congress doesn’t act in time.
Analysts estimate that if nothing is done, income taxes for the average family of four could go up about $3,000 and that the economy would be destined for another recession as $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts kick in.
Republicans Softening Their ‘No Taxes’ Stance
A hint of optimism that the ice could be breaking came when a few Republicans backed away from the party’s no-tax pledge. Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee indicated a willingness to make a deal with Democrats that would include more tax revenue to pay down the debt.
“It’s fair to ask my party to put revenue on the table,” Graham said on ABC. “We’re below historic averages.”
Graham is one of 39 senators and 219 House members who signed the infamous Taxpayer Protection Plan authored by Grover Norquist but says his signature won’t stop him from voting for increased tax revenues.
“We can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,” said Graham, who added that he would “violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country.”
Republicans are asking Democrats to make concessions on Social Security and Medicare, two entitlement programs that are ripe for reductions.
The most popular idea floated so far has been to raise the eligibility age for Medicare gradually from 65 to 67. North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad said such a change is “something we could accomplish,” but there has not been widespread discussion on the idea.
Corker Makes Proposal to White House, Leaders
So far, nearly all the talk about the fiscal cliff has been in general terms until Corker, a Tennessee Republican elected in 2006, spoke out in an op-ed piece that appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post.
Corker wrote that he presented the White House and congressional leaders with a 242-page bill that would produce $4.5 trillion in fiscal reforms over the next 10 years. Among the noteworthy proposals in the bill:
- Capping federal deductions for individuals at $50,000
- Raising the eligibility age for Social Security to 68 and Medicare to 67
- Higher Medicare premiums for upper-income retirees
- And an $11,000 voucher payment system for federal workers to finance their family’s health insurance.
Corker, who said he was adamant about reaching a long-term solution, wrote that it was the responsibility of the current Congress to deal with this immediately. Getting a temporary deal in place, he wrote, should not be an option: “The only difference will be that the hole we’re digging out from will be even deeper.”
Photo: Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].
- Cohen, T. (2012, November 27). GOP resistance to anti-tax pledge grows. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/politics/fiscal-cliff/
- Corker, B. (2012, November 25). A plan to dodge the ‘fiscal cliff.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sen-bob-corker-a-plan-to-dodge-the-fiscal-cliff/2012/11/25/0e237712-3586-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_story.html