WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – President Barack Obama is taking his case for avoiding a potentially unsettling “fiscal cliff” to the public on Friday, employing campaign-style tactics in hopes of mobilizing support.
Obama was scheduled to go to Hatfield, Pa., to pressure Republicans to allow tax increases on the wealthy while extending current Bush-era tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less.
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His trip comes a day after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met privately with congressional leaders and presented a proposal calling for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over 10 years and immediate spending to help the unemployed and struggling homeowners.
The proposal, which Democratic officials described as a negotiation’s opening bid, includes plans for legislation in 2013 aimed at
saving $400 billion over 10 years from Medicare and other benefit programs.
Administration officials said the offer constituted much of what Obama has suggested in budget proposals.
Following a closed-door meeting with Geithner, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declared “no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House” in the two weeks since congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House.
“Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit,” Boehner said.
At the White House, presidential press secretary Jay Carney took on a confrontational tone, saying: “There can be no deal without rates on top earners going up.”
There are just 32 days left before automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in. Economists fear that if lawmakers don’t hash out a deal, it would cause another recession.
For Obama, the trip to Pennsylvania is part of a strategy to press his case publicly even while negotiating privately. He has already met with small business owners and with middle-class families in separate White House events.
He has also invited business and labor leaders to the White House as well as Democratic operatives who can echo his plans on the airwaves.
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