Labor heads say Obama backs them on 'fiscal cliff'

Associated Press Modified: November 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm •  Published: November 13, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Labor leaders said Tuesday that President Barack Obama remains committed to preserving tax cuts for middle class families and ensuring the wealthy pay more in taxes, outlining plans for a public campaign to pressure Republican lawmakers.

The heads of several labor unions and Democratic-leaning interest groups emerged from an hour-long meeting with Obama saying they were united with the president on how to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" and prevent more financial hardships next year.

"We are very, very committed to making sure that the middle class and workers don't end up paying the tab for a party that we didn't get to go to and the president is committed to that as well," said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

Labor leaders said they plan to mobilize their members in the coming weeks to press Republicans to support the extension of tax cuts for middle income families. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said labor needs to remain "as engaged as we were in the election throughout the rest of this year to make sure we get the Republican House to say yes to tax cuts for the middle class."

According to participants, White House aides said the president intends to hold campaign-style events across the country after Thanksgiving to drum up support for his proposed solution to the fiscal cliff. It would build upon more than 100 rallies organized by labor unions last week urging members of Congress to avoid cuts to entitlement programs.

Obama was kicking off a series of meetings this week with labor officials, business executives and congressional leaders aimed at finding consensus on the fiscal cliff. The week will include a tone-setting news conference Wednesday that will give the president the chance to frame his outlook on the year-ending lame duck session.

The president views his re-election as an affirmation of his belief that raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year is what voters want. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has expressed a willingness to raise revenues but remains opposed to boosting tax rates, pointing instead to closing tax loopholes, lowering rates and fixing entitlement programs.

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