President Obama is reaching out aggressively to major interest groups that will be key to getting a budget compromise and averting a fiscal calamity at the end of the year.
On Tuesday, he meets with labor leaders including Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union. Also on the invitation list are leaders of progressive groups including MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress. These groups supported Obama's re-election and want to avoid deep reductions in Medicare, Social Security, and other social programs that are being discussed as part of a budget compromise.
On Wednesday, Obama gets together with business leaders including Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express; Mike Duke, president and CEO of Walmart; and Mark Bertolini, president, chairman and CEO of Aetna. The business leaders are expected to urge Obama to avoid huge tax increases, and not to impose too many regulations on corporations.
Also on Wednesday, Obama has scheduled a news conference in which aides say he will set forth his priorities for a budget compromise and attempt to re-connect with the White House press corps as he tries to marshall support for his agenda.
On Friday, Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders of both parties.
Obama's meetings with these groups underscore the difficulty of forging a budget pact because the major players' priorities and outlooks are so different.
If there is no compromise by year's end, automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts will be phased in, and the government will go over what legislators call the "fiscal cliff." Some economists say this could throw the nation into recession.
Obama is also moving aggressively on the foreign-policy front by traveling Saturday to Asia, where he will meet with regional leaders in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand. It's part of what administration officials say will be a renewed emphasis on building economic and national-security ties to Asia.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter.