Just as television audiences were beginning to enjoy a post-election respite from the political commercials that dominated the months preceding November's presidential election, groups on both sides of the looming "fiscal cliff" negotiations are priming a new flood of advertisements. 

Thanksgiving weekend marked the unofficial kickoff for new interest group ad campaigns urging voters to lobby their members of Congress over the outcome automatic triggers that would raise tax rates across the board and impose severe domestic and defense budget cuts.

Labor unions and seniors groups are particularly active, pushing President Obama and congressional Democrats to refuse a debt deal that would cut benefits for entitlement programs.


The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association told CNN earlier this week that they are spending $300,000 on an initial ad campaign that advocates a solution that would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. 

The radio, print, and television advertisements will target Democratic Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE and Mark UdallMark Emery Udall11 former Democratic senators call for 'meaningful reform to Senate rules' Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package MORE in Colorado, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerNew Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE in Virginia and Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBiden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies On The Trail: Trump-inspired challengers target GOP governors MORE in Missouri, along with assorted House Democrats, telling supporters to lobby the members to hold firm on the debt deal negotiations.

"There's a debate going on in Washington about the best way to move the country forward and reduce the deficit. But there's one thing that both parties can agree on: We shouldn't raise taxes on the middle class. But if Congress fails to act soon, that's exactly what will happen," says the narrator in the radio ad.

"Middle class families can't afford that. And our economy can't afford that, either," the narrator continues. "Congress should act quickly to preserve the middle class tax cuts. And that will take leaders willing to put people ahead of partisan politics."

The American Association of Retired Persons has also begun airing ads in Washington, D.C., that ask lawmakers to preserve and strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security. Those ads feature imagery of seniors discussing medications with their pharmacists.

"Raiding Medicare and Social Security to pay for other government programs is shortsighted and harmful to seniors and their kids and grandkids," said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond to The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, business groups are also advocating a solution to the looming issue, albeit without the same emphasis on preserving social programs.

The Business Roundtable (BRT) is using member CEOs to push for a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts while a long-term solution is sought. In a print, radio, and internet campaign dubbed "It's Time to Act," BRT executives argue that the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff is stifling job growth.

“The inaction from Washington on a range of key fiscal and tax policies represents an irresponsible abdication of duty,” said BRT President John Engler. “To improve our economy, which is still struggling to rebound, Congress and the administration must address the immediate threats to U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. It’s time for Washington to act.”

And a group headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson — co-chairs of President Obama's debt-reduction committee — has launched an ad campaign of its own, playing off popular product advertisements while advocating that lawmakers strike a grand bargain. One ad, styled after Nike's "Just do it" campaign features a runner and the slogan "Just fix it." Another ad shows a woman with a milk mustache and the tagline, "Got debt?"

Vicki Needham contributed to the reporting of this article.