The president is launching an effort to rally public support for a deficit-reduction plan that includes tax increases on the wealthy. He’ll meet with labor and progressive leaders on Tuesday, host leaders from the business community and hold a press conference on Wednesday, all before hosting bipartisan leaders of Congress at the White House on Friday.
A few questions as the White House kicks off this public relations push: Will the president match his outside game with a refined inside game, drawing lessons from the failures of the 2011 negotiations over the debt ceiling? Will he be able to find Republican partners to help drive the process if GOP leadership stalls on a deal? After Democratic victories, will the president be willing to put entitlements on the table in a significant way, as he did a year ago?
Speaker John Boehner has been open to a deal which includes higher tax revenues, but Republicans have refused to consider higher tax rates. How much leeway does Boehner have to cut a deal that might anger some conservatives? Will Republicans come to the table before January 1st, or will it take a TARP-style market collapse to win Republican votes?
Finally, will the two sides be able to agree on what has been the sticking point: the decoupling of higher-income Bush tax rates from middle-class rates? And will the toughest items be resolved before January 1st, or punted into next year, setting up a longer-term conversation on tax reform?