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Obama attempts 'fiscal cliff' coup: winning over business leaders

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Some business executive are involved with nonpartisan campaigns like Fix the Debt, a movement by public policy experts and the business community to lobby Washington for a grand debt-reduction deal. They say they were spurred to action by Washington’s near-default on its debt during the summer of 2011.

Republicans refused to increase the nation’s debt limit unless the White House would agree to offsetting government spending cuts. Amid the brinkmanship, US equity markets tanked and one credit-rating agency downgraded America’s debt.

“Most of you were involved in discussions and watched the catastrophe that happened in August of 2011. Everybody here is concerned about uncertainty. There's no uncertainty like the prospect that the United States of America, the largest economy that holds the world's reserve currency, potentially defaults on its debts,” the president said Wednesday. “We can't afford to go there again. And this isn't just my opinion. It's the opinion of most of the folks in this room.”

But it isn’t as if the president has locked up corporate support – not by a long stretch. Those same corporate interests willing to stomach higher individual tax rates, for example, are also nearly unanimous about a key Republican priority: reforming entitlement programs like Medicare to stabilize the country's long-term financial outlook.

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