President Obama won re-election only a few weeks ago, yet he'll be back on the campaign trail in the coming days as part of a strategy to put public pressure on Republican lawmakers to raise taxes on high-income earners. The president is planning to meet with small business owners and middle-class families at the White House, then touring a toy construction company in Hatfield, Pa., on Friday. The administration argues that this Pennsylvania company is exactly the type of business that will suffer if Congress does not reach a budget deal to avert the fiscal cliff at the end of the year, when all the Bush tax cuts will expire and a raft of automatic spending cuts will take effect.
Obama is hoping that a strong show of public support will give him leverage once he meets with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) behind closed doors to hammer out a deal. A majority of American already support Obama's demand that Congress raise tax rates on the 2 percent of households earning more than $250,000 a year, and campaigning "may keep the president and his fiscal approach popular — and the overall GOP brand unpopular," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post.
However, there's also the risk that more campaigning could alienate congressional Republicans who might otherwise be persuaded to compromise. The strategy could "exacerbate partisan tensions at a time when voters have said in polls that they want the two sides to work together to fix the nation's finances," says Peter Baker at The New York Times. "Republicans have already complained that the president seems less interested in sitting down to talk than in scoring political points."
But even Republicans admit that not much is going to get done until the fiscal cliff gets even closer. "The reality is that everyone is going to run in circles over the next couple of weeks," says NBC's First Read. "Why? Because Washington typically needs the pressure of a deadline to get things done."