WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama takes his “fiscal-cliff” campaign to the home of a family in Northern Virginia on Thursday to illustrate the impact of letting taxes go up on the middle class, as signs emerge that Republicans are contemplating a change in strategy in their battle with Democrats over deficit reduction.
With about three weeks remaining before steep tax hikes and budget cuts that comprise the so-called fiscal cliff are set to begin, the White House said Obama would visit the home of a family that responded to a presidential Twitter request for real-life stories about the burden of a tax increase on the middle class.
Northern Virginia is a suburban expanse across the Potomac River from the U.S. capital that includes some of the wealthiest counties in the United States as well as populous middle-class developments that have grown up over the past quarter century. Due to its proximity to the White House, the president often uses it as a setting for public relations efforts.
“A member of this family shared her story about how paying $2,200 more in taxes next year would impact them if Congress doesn’t act,” said a White House statement, which added that over 100,000 people responded to the Twitter request.
Obama and Democrats in Congress want the tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year to be extended for taxpayers with income below $250,000 a year, but not for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
In exchange, the president has said he is willing to consider significant spending cuts that include unspecified changes to “entitlement” programs such as Medicare, the government health insurance plan for seniors.
Republicans are holding out for an extension of all the tax cuts, but have become increasingly divided over the past two weeks about whether they can prevail in the face of Obama’s firm stance and Republican control of only the House of Representatives but not the U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday night, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee hinted on PBS’ “Newshour” program that a change of strategy might be in the works.
“I think that there’s a lot of thinking about the best way to actually cause the president to actually come forth with a real plan” for deficit reduction that might break the deadlock, he said, adding that “it just isn’t” happening now.
“There’s movement in a lot of directions,” he said. “And so I do think Republicans are looking” at “what is the best way to get us in a place where we actually have the leverage.”
Editing by Peter Cooney