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Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell jockey for advantages: 33 days to fiscal cliff

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Fiscal Cliff Notes for Nov. 28, 2012
33 days to the fiscal cliff

President Barack Obama and his team is running a campaign-style drive to bolster support from business in the looming fiscal cliff negotiations with Republicans. Getting business on board--or at least to tone down dissent--would be a plus as Obama looks for House Republicans to pick off in his first demand: Don't extend tax breaks expiring Dec. 31 for those who earn more than $250,000.

All of us will see federal income tax rates rise next year if Congress does nothing. Obama is making a priority of first getting Republicans to agree to extend the tax breaks for the 98 percent of people who make less than $250,000. To that end, Obama on Wednesday is gathering a small crowd of folks below the $250,000 threshold at a building next to the White House to make a small speech about the need for Congress to act right away.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his team and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are talking to some of the same folks who are lobbying Obama and congressional Democrats. House Republicans are resisting the Obama push to do the tax breaks for the 98 percenters first. House Democrats are looking to pick off 30 or so Republicans to get Democratic sanctioned legislation passed.

There are no "formal" negotiations going on today; Wednesday is really about more jockeying for public relations advantages and laying out arguments.

Lynn Sweet column on Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) speech to his fellow progressives on the fiscal cliff is HERE.


From the White House: Later in the afternoon, the President and the Vice President will attend a meeting with business leaders to discuss the actions we need to take to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit. The President and the Vice President will be joined by the following:

· Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO, The Home Depot

· Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group

· Joe Echeverria, CEO, Deloitte LLP

· Ken Frazier, President and CEO, Merck and Co.

· Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, Coca Cola

· Terry Lundgren, Chairman, President, and CEO, Macy's Inc.

· Marissa Mayer, CEO and President, Yahoo!

· Douglas Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar

· Ian Read, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer

· Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast

· Ed Rust, Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Co.

· Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott

· Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO, AT&T


Brendan Buck, Boehner's spokesman, sent a memo Wednesday morning to reporters outlining some of the events of the day ahead--taking a few jabs at the Democrats and planting a few seeds for stories.

From Buck: "Happy Wednesday to you - This morning, Republican leaders will be meeting with the non-partisan Fix the Debt coalition, including founder Erskine Bowles. The President, as you know, has also tasked White House staff to meet with representatives from the group later today. (It's my understanding House Democrats will be holding a photo-op as well). So, with all the talk from Democrats about Medicare and Social Security being off limits and the supposed need for higher tax rates, please make sure you see the three principles for an agreement that this coalition is promoting. They might look familiar. (Familiar because they look just like what the Speaker has put forward). Those serious about reducing our deficit and debt understand that entitlement reform must be part of any agreement and that revenue can be generated with lower tax rates. It's math. If you get the chance, don't hesitate to ask the White House or Congressional Democrats if they agree with these three principles:

· Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system, and limit future cost growth;

· Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries; and

· Include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues, and reduces the deficit."


Pelosi and her leadership team is also meeting with the the "Fix the Debt" leaders and is offering up a photo op before they get together this morning.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is irked that Obama is hitting the road Friday to visit a toy factory (Christmas peg) to sell his fiscal cliff approach--and the need for Congress to pass the 98 percenter tax break first.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said, "It's hard to believe, really. I mean, every week he spends campaigning for his ideas is a week that we're not solving the problem. It's totally counterproductive. The election is over. We've got a hard deadline here, and he's still out on the campaign trail. This is a problem. If the President really wants to reach an agreement, he needs to be talking with the members of his own party, here in Washington, trying to broker an agreement, not out there firing up crowds and giving speeches.

"He's the only one who can do it, the only one who can bring folks together to broker a consensus solution that can pass a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican-led House."

Click below for full McConnell remarks.

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