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Obama convenes Democratic congressional leaders at White House

July 11, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democratic leaders are headed to the White House to discuss President Obama's tax proposal and other policies as the party makes an offensive legislative push toward the November election.

Obama is convening the House and Senate leaders Wednesday as Republicans hold a largely symbolic vote in the House to repeal the nation's new healthcare law.

Democrats have argued that Americans are tired of the healthcare debate and want Washington to focus on jobs and the economy — and polls show they are largely right.

Obama shifted the focus to the tax front this week, as he called on Congress to extend expiring tax rates from the George W. Bush era for another year for all Americans except those families earning more than $250,000 a year. Republicans reject this approach and want the tax breaks to continue for all, even the wealthier households. If nothing is done, the tax rates will rise in December.

The move by Obama will launch a floor battle in Congress in the weeks ahead as House Speaker John A. Boehner holds a vote on keeping all the Bush-era tax breaks in place, and Democrats, who have the majority in the Senate, press for Obama's more limited approach. Neither bill is expected to pass, but the showdown heading toward the long August recess will fuel the campaign season.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the minority leader, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and other Democratic leaders will meet with Obama at the White House this afternoon to discuss these and other issues on the summer legislative agenda.

Democrats have struggled with some level of discord on the tax issue, as some lawmakers from conservative or high-income regions would prefer to keep the tax breaks in place until families hit the $1-million income threshold.

But after Obama sent top officials — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and senior adviser David Axelrod — to the Hill to meet with lawmakers on Tuesday, reluctant Democrats emerged from talks seemingly more inclined to fall in line with the president's approach.

The meeting is set for Wednesday afternoon in the Oval Office.

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Lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

Twitter: @lisamascaroindc

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