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'Fiscal cliff' meeting at White House: Will it be 'Lincoln' moment for Obama?

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In “Lincoln” the movie, an intensely engaged, hands-on president consolidates Republican ranks on the need for an amendment abolishing slavery, while peeling off enough Democratic votes to win by argument or raw political muscle.

President Lincoln’s effort to pass an amendment abolishing slavery took months. Obama has four days to find a way around some $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Moreover, the 3 p.m. Oval Office meeting marks the first time the president has met directly with all four congressional leaders on the fiscal cliff since mid-November. With Congress gridlocked and House Republicans in disarray, it’s not clear that the Obama White House has the capacity or the will to take responsibility for the outcome.

For what it’s worth, Obama is winning the fiscal cliff battle in public opinion polls. A Gallup poll released this week finds that 54 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations, compared with 26 percent who back the Republican leaders. While most Americans had been confident that Congress would resolve the fiscal cliff by Jan. 1, that confidence level dropped this week to just 50 percent.

"Blunt's remarks show how intractable this situation is. The GOP doesn't want to take the blame for proposing anything, and instead wants to blame the White House for not doing the same," says longtime congressional budget analyst Stan Collender,a partner at Qorvis Communications in Washington, in an e-mail.

"The White House sees no reason to bail out the GOP, whose approval rating is in the 20s while the president's is in the 50s," he adds.

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