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Republicans rip Obama for campaign-style approach to fiscal talks

FILE: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner outside the White House in Washington.AP

Frustrated Republican leaders took a swipe Tuesday at President Obama, reminding him “the election is over” as he opts for a campaign-style strategy to sell his tax-hike proposal to middle-class America and small business owners – rather than deal face-to-face with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The president met last week with House Speaker John Boehner at the White House and spoke with him over the weekend. But as members of Congress return this week to Washington, Obama is instead hosting a series of events aimed at selling his plan while pressuring Republicans to extend tax cuts only to families earning $250,000 or less annually, which amounts to a tax hike on high-income families.

“The target of the president’s rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending,” Boehner spokesman Mike Steel said Tuesday.

The president has invited small-business owners from across the country to meet Tuesday at the White House to discuss the impact of his tax policies on small businesses.

Among the 15 invited are Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots, west Oakland; David Bolotsky, chief executive officer of Uncommon Goods, New York; and Mandy Cabot, co-founder of Dansko, West Grove, Pa.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled the president’s shift Monday when he said: “The election is over” and it’s time for the president to present a plan that “goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail."

Steel and other Republicans argue they are fulfilling their half of the bargain in the fiscal talks by agreeing to change the tax code to generate revenue to reduce the annual trillion-dollar deficits.

However, Democrats have to keep their end by presenting a plan to cut federal spending through such entitlement programs as Medicare and Social Security, they say.

Should the sides fail to strike a deal by Jan. 1, a mix of tax increases and federal spending cuts equaling roughly $1.3 trillion over the next decade would begin to take effect next year, which some economists say could plunge the U.S. economy back into a recession.

The president, who wants to extend tax breaks only for households earning less than $250,000 annually, is also meeting Wednesday with chief executive officers and middle-class taxpayers. On Friday, he is hosting a rally in the Philadelphia area where he is scheduled to lay out his plan to keep the country from going off the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Meanwhile, Republicans will make their own appeal to Americans.

Boehner’s office said Tuesday that House Republicans will take their own message to small businesses across the country. Members in the coming days and weeks will hold events and visit local small businesses to emphasize “the threat to jobs posed by congressional Democrats’ small business tax hike.”

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