Obama plans to sit down with a dozen chief executives to hear their ideas about how the nation can avoid the tax increases and program cutbacks known as the fiscal cliff.
President Barack Obama appears unlikely to find broad backing in the business community for his effort to make upper-income Americans pay higher taxes.
But the president has little to lose when he continues his courtship of corporate leaders during a White House meeting Wednesday.
Although major business groups remain allied with Republicans and firmly opposed to tax rate increases sought by the president, the administration can hope to pick up support from a few individual executives for what Obama calls a “balanced approach” to reducing the budget deficit and heading off the sweeping tax increases and automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 1.
Obama plans to sit down with a dozen chief executives to hear their ideas about how the nation can avoid the tax increases and program cutbacks known as the fiscal cliff. The session is not likely to yield any concrete agreement or explicit endorsement of the White House’s plan to allow tax rates to increase for couples making at least $250,000 a year.
Obama held a similar meeting Tuesday with leaders of labor unions and liberal advocacy groups. On Friday, the president will have his first sit-down with congressional leaders to begin negotiations on preventing expiration of all of the George W. Bush administration tax cuts and implementation of the across-the-board spending cuts mandated by last summer’s debt ceiling law.
Any crack in business opposition to Obama’s tax plan could help the White House considerably. “It’s very wise. It’s a good move to try to be as inclusive as possible, to try to create a dialogue,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist who served as a top aide to former House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. He added that after a rocky relationship over the past four years, “The president has a real opportunity to create a fresh start with the business community.”
If Obama is fortunate, influential business leaders he has worked with in the past, including Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey R. Immelt, will give him some cover on the tax issue.
Business associations, however, strongly oppose the president’s push to raise tax rates and are far closer to the position of congressional Republicans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and National Association of Manufacturers are urging Congress to continue current tax policy well past the new year and then turn to overhauling the tax code and entitlement programs to stabilize the growing national debt.
“First, stop sequestration and extend all of the current tax rates and other expiring tax incentives,” Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber, said in prepared remarks to reporters Tuesday. “Do it for a reasonable period of time to let the recovery pick up some stream — and to give lawmakers the time they need to negotiate a ‘big deal’ to control the debt and put our economy on a path to robust growth.”
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.