Obama goes on road to ramp up pressure over tax rates on GOP

President Obama is launching a public drive this week to gain support for his economic policy proposals ahead of talks with lawmakers on a deficit-reduction package.

The president will meet with small-business owners from across the country on Tuesday to present an analysis of his tax policies. Obama will host the event at the White House with “middle class Americans who would be impacted if Congress fails to act to extend the middle class tax cuts,” the White House said in a release.

{mosads}On Wednesday, the president will also take his message on the road, visiting a business in Montgomery County, Pa., that “depends on middle class consumers during the holiday season, and could be impacted if taxes go up on 98 percent of Americans at the end of the year” on Friday.

The outreach is part of the administration’s continued effort to sell the public on Obama’s efforts to address the looming tax hikes and spending cuts collectively known as the “fiscal cliff” and raise pressure on congressional Republicans.

A centerpiece of Obama’s plan is extending tax rates for the middle class and raising taxes on the wealthiest earners to help pay for deficit reduction. 

Republicans, though, are opposed to raising rates, but many have signaled they will accept new revenues through eliminating loopholes and deductions, if Democrats place entitlement spending on the negotiating table.

This week’s public outreach is only the latest step in a fight to sway the public ahead of crucial talks with GOP lawmakers.

On Monday, the administration touted a report by the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers that says if Congress fails to act on the fiscal cliff, “the economy could see a hit to consumer spending which is roughly 70% of the U.S. economy and a typical family would see an average tax hike of $2,200 at the end of the year.”

And last week, senior Obama campaign adviser David Plouffe emailed supporters asking them to share their stories on how a tax increase would affect them. Some of those who responded will join the president at Wednesday’s event.

Democrats are also looking to box Republicans in by arguing they should agree to extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates immediately on families earning up to $250,000 a year, rather than use it as a bargaining chip to prevent rates from rising for higher-income earners.

The president appears to be winning the public outreach battle — according to a CNN-ORC poll released Monday, 45 percent of Americans would blame Republicans if a deal isn’t reached on the fiscal cliff, while only 34 would blame Obama.

On Tuesday, GOP Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) said he feared the president had been more aggressive selling his vision to the public. 

“Maybe we’re not as persuasive as Obama is,” Inhofe said. 

Sen. Pat Toomey though said he welcomed Obama’s visit to his home state this week, and said the president had many questions to answer about his tax agenda. 

“If the president actually gets the tax increase that he really wants that solves 8 percent of the projected deficit over the next 10 years, what in the world is the president’s plan for the other 92 percent? Is he going to raise taxes on the middle class, is he going to raise taxes repeatedly?” asked Toomney.

—This story was updated at 8:33 a.m.
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