Chief executives of some of the most prominent U.S. corporations are meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama as he seeks to enlist their support in resolving key end-of-the-year government tax and spending issues.
The U.S. is facing a looming “fiscal cliff.” It is a financial precipice with $600 billion in mandated spending cuts to crucial defense and domestic programs and tax increases set to take effect January 1 if Mr. Obama cannot reach an agreement on a compromise with his Republican opponents in Congress.
Mr. Obama, the Democratic incumbent re-elected to a second term last week, is hoping that leaders of such well-known international companies as General Electric, American Express, Wal-Mart Stores and others will support his call for a mix of spending cuts and tax increases for the wealthiest American families, including those of the chief executives.
Some American corporate leaders are calling on Mr. Obama and lawmakers in Congress to reach a compromise. They are fearful that a continued stalemate on taxes and spending that started more than a year ago will push the country's fragile economic recovery back into a recession.
Mr. Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders Friday in their first face-to-face meeting on the contentious issues. The president is calling for $1.6 trillion in new government revenue over the next decade, partly through elimination of a decade-old tax cut for the nation's wealthiest households, those making more than $250,000 a year.
Key Republican lawmakers have said they are open increasing government revenue through elimination of some tax deductions, but have rejected the president's bid to end the tax cut for wealthy Americans. They also are seeking major reforms to cut the growing cost of funding pension and health care programs for the elderly, as well as medical support for impoverished Americans.
The negotiations are likely to be long and difficult, and may extend to just before the calendar turns from 2012 to 2013. Some of Mr. Obama's Democratic supporters have suggested that he ought to allow the spending cuts and tax increases that would affect all American workers to take effect, and then negotiate a more comprehensive package in the new year. But Mr. Obama has so far shown no interest in that scheme.
On Tuesday, the president met with labor leaders who widely supported his re-election campaign. They called on him to reject any agreement that would cut spending on the programs for the elderly and poor, and voiced their support for ending the tax break for the wealthiest taxpayers.