There's nothing like a little public pressure to help a politician reach his goal. At a Wednesday White House event, President Obama launched a full court offensive to make his case for raising taxes on the nation's top earners as part of a fiscal cliff deal with an auditorium full of middle class voters as his cheerleaders and a new hashtag to send a message to Congress.
Obama urged Americans to pressure lawmakers to extend for the middle class the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year by letting them know how the loss of $2,000 or more per year would affect their households and "drag our economy down."
"If there's one thing that I've learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens," he said, calling on them to use the White House-created hashtag #My2K, and to tweet, call or email their lawmakers or post on their Facebook pages.
The president warned that if Congress doesn't act in a "fair and balanced" way, the economy will "go south," making it more difficult to reduce the federal deficit and to provide benefits like unemployment insurance.
If he and Congress can't reach a deal by Dec. 31, automatic cuts to domestic programs and the Defense Department budget will go into effect.
"It's too important for Washington to screw this up. Now's the time for us to work on what we all agree to, which is let's keep middle-class taxes low," Obama said. "That's what our economy needs; that's what the American people deserve. And if we get this part of it right, then a lot of the other issues surrounding deficit reduction in a fair and balanced and responsible way are going to be a whole lot easier."
Obama will amp up the pressure on Friday when he takes his message on the road for a series of campaign-style events. His first stop will be a toy manufacturer in Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, he met with business leaders, some of whom backed his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, to gain their support.
A majority of Republicans continue to oppose tax hikes on anyone and are pushing Democrats to make spending cuts in exchange for measures to raise revenues. Some have also criticized the president's public relations effort to force them over to his side.
"Every week he spends campaigning for his ideas is a week that we're not solving the problem," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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