President Obama speaks during an event Wednesday with middle-class Americans… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)
WASHINGTON -- President Obama called on Americans to pressure Congress using Twitter and other social media to save middle-class tax cuts, warning that “if we get this wrong, the economy is going to go south.”
His comments Wednesday before TV cameras at the White House marked the start of a full-fledged public relations campaign to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts from kicking in next year.
“If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year,” he told a group of middle-class income earners, along with members of labor, progressive and civil rights organizations who were assembled on the White House grounds.
“I’ll go anywhere and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this done,” Obama added. “It’s too important for Washington to screw this up.”
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Obama urged Americans to tweet members of Congress – even providing a specific hash-tag, #My2K – or post on Facebook or send an e-mail to support his proposal to agree not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year, which he said would cover 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens,” he said.
The president twice mentioned the #my2k hash-tag, and it later was featured prominently on a screen behind White House Press Secretary Jay Carney throughout his televised afternoon briefing.
Republican leaders in Congress don’t like the president’s PR campaign any more than they like his message. The time Obama is devoting to promoting his ideas with the public would be better spent meeting with congressional leaders, according to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
House Republicans called for the president to unveil proposed spending cuts that are as detailed as his tax proposals.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cited the bigger goal of reducing the national deficit, asking when the White House would seriously discuss reducing spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other popular entitlement programs.
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An Obama aide said the president has “flexibility” on tax rates and entitlement reform. But the president described long-term deficit control as “our ultimate goal” in his remarks Wednesday. His immediate goal, he said, is getting Congress to lock in middle-class tax cuts before they expire on Dec. 31.
“Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time here.”
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