Obama backers turn from re-election to 'fiscal cliff' fight

Dec 13 2012, 18:00 IST
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SummaryThe election ended more than a month ago, but the campaign continues for many of the 2 million-plus foot soldiers.

After a year of knocking on doors and working the phones to get President Barack Obama re-elected, Meechie Biggers had gotten over her fear of talking politics with strangers.

So when she came to Washington last week, the small-town real estate agent and a few like-minded Tennesseeans paid a visit to one of their Republican senators, Bob Corker, to try to persuade him to back Obama's proposal to raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Biggers didn't think she had much of a chance of changing his mind, and perhaps she didn't. But four days later, Corker became the latest Republican to say his party should consider Obama's proposed tax hike as part of a year-end budget deal.

"It's a testament to knocking on doors and giving people your two cents," Biggers said.

The election ended more than a month ago, but the campaign continues for many of the 2 million-plus foot soldiers who helped secure Obama's second term.

Flush with victory, many volunteers and staffers are now mounting a grassroots effort to ensure that any deal that emerges from year-end "fiscal cliff" discussions includes a tax increase on the wealthiest households.

It's an open question how many will stick with him if he is forced to consider cutting popular programs such as Medicare that enjoy broad support on the left.

But for now, it's a chance to help Obama fulfill one of his central campaign promises - economic justice - and build on the momentum of his re-election. It also enables them to maintain friendships and a sense of purpose that were forged through the campaign.

"You can only go to so many celebrations, parties and lunches. And then you're ready to help the president get done what he needs to get done," said Lenda Sherrell, a retired accountant from Monteagle, Tennessee, who visited Corker along with Biggers.

The effort gives Obama added leverage in Washington at a time when many Republican allies are undergoing a painful re-examination in the wake of last month's election.

Groups aligned with the conservative Tea Party movement, who pressed successfully for deep spending cuts in earlier budget fights, have been less visible in the fiscal-cliff battle, and business groups have pressed Republican lawmakers to abandon their no-tax-hike stance.

The grassroots pressure from the left could weaken Republicans' resolve to hold the line against tax hikes, said Chris Arterton, a professor of political management at George Washington University. "It tends to take the wind out of

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