Obama seizes on GOP’s waning leverage in appeal for middle class

Updated
President Obama works on his Blackberry on his belt as he returns to the Oval Office at the White House.
President Obama works on his Blackberry on his belt as he returns to the Oval Office at the White House.
Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

In noting the number of GOP lawmakers willing to break ranks with their party’s stance on tax rates, President Obama appealed to middle class Americans in person and over social media to tip Republicans over the edge in “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

President Obama on Wednesday met with middle class Americans who would be impacted by his plan to immediately extend tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 a year. He warned that the typical middle class family of four would see its taxes rise by roughly $2,000 should Republicans stand in his way.

“If you’ve been reading the papers lately, more and more Republicans in Congress are believing we should have a balanced approach,” Obama said.

Earlier on Wednesday, top conservative Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma sparked party infighting by calling on his fellow Republican colleagues to embrace Obama’s plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for 98% of Americans, leaving negotiations on rates for the wealthiest 2% still on the table.

In recent weeks, Republican leadership have indicated a willingness to raise revenue by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions in the tax code but not through raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as the president would like to.

Obama piggybacked on the back-and-forth among Republican leaders saying, “If we can get a few House Republicans to agree to this, I will sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way.”

The White House followed up the event with a social media campaign. It is promoting the Twitter hashtag “#My2K” (“not Y2K!” Obama joked), asking the middle class to share how a $2,000 tax increase would affect them should Congress not act.

“Voices of American people have to be a part of the debate,” the president said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when the American people speak loudly enough, Congress listens.”

Shoring up support via Twitter is nothing new to the Obama White House: last December in the initial rounds of the tax-rate debate, the White House promoted the #40dollars hashtag to pressure Congress into extending the payroll tax. The White House used the tactic again last spring with #dontdoublemyrate when student loan rates were on the line.

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Obama seizes on GOP's waning leverage in appeal for middle class

Updated