How Obama's Deficit-Reduction Plan Could Backfire

Republicans are already on the offensive, lambasting tax increases as job killers.

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Failure to Pick a Fight

The first step is done; the president has laid out what he wants. Now, says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, he has to stand firm. "He needs to pick a fight here. ... I think he's laid out the basis for it. [But] I haven't seen him pick the fight yet." And while the president has vowed to veto any deficit-cutting plan that includes no tax increases, Lake believes that taking up this fight will require more direct action, such as rallying a substantial number of congressional Democrats to sign on to his proposal in a show of solidarity. This, says Lake, would "lay the groundwork the idea that we are ready to move now."

If the president fails to show that kind of resolve, says Schier, it could undermine even his firmest political support: "That's what his base believes: 'Alright, you talk tough, but you cave.' And he's got to demonstrate that he won't cave in order to keep his base in line."

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