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During fiscal cliff fight, Obama avoids personal negotiations with Congress

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,Politics Digest

As the Wall Street Journal notes this morning, President Obama’s negotiating tactics on the ‘fiscal cliff’ are different than his efforts in 2011 over the debt ceiling fight.

Mr. Obama’s approach is a stark contrast to his negotiating style of 2011′s budget talks. During those talks, he met primarily with lawmakers, and at one point peeled off to unilaterally negotiate with Mr. Boehner. The White House felt that process hurt the president politically.

Obama held a bi-partisan meeting with congressional leaders hours before he left for his trip to Asia. Afterwards, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev. and House Speaker John Boehner R-Ohio signaled in a fuzzy press conference that they felt a deal was within their grasp before they left town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney revealed to reporters yesterday that Obama spoke with both congressional leaders on the phone over the weekend.

“There are some Americans who say — or they might react and say a phone call on a weekend to Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner, that doesn’t really suggest presidential muscularity,” a skeptical Major Garrett noted during the briefing. “Why not have more frequent meetings?”

“I am highly confident that for the most part, outside of the Beltway, the preoccupation among the American people over this issue is simply that they want action,” Carney answered.

Reports suggest that Obama may go on the road to promote his plan directly to the American people. In the meantime, Obama has met with faith based groups, labor leaders, and a group of CEO’s – meetings branded as “listening” sessions about the impending tax fight.

Obama continues to appeal directly to the public, putting further pressure on Congress to pass a deal. The White House economic team warned yesterday that the Christmas shopping season would suffer if Congress fails to extend tax cuts for the middle class. Obama is also meeting with a second group of CEO’s on Wednesday to talk about the impact the fiscal cliff will have on the economy.

In the meantime the once-famous bi-partisan rounds of golf and evening cocktails appear to be on the back burner.

“I think that the reality of modern-day Washington is a little different than it was in 1801, to use a timely example,” Carney said scornfully yesterday. “And so the notion that you can solve all problems over a cocktail I think is a little overrated.”

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