Several major labor unions joined together to release an ad campaign this week pushing members of Congress to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans and protect entitlement programs from major cuts as a solution to the looming fiscal cliff, the groups announced Tuesday.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Education Association say they're spending $300,000 on an initial TV and radio buy for the ad campaign, according to a high ranking labor official. Combined, the three labor groups have more than 6.7 million members.
Congress faces an end-of-the-year deadline to find a deficit-reduction deal in order to avert an enormous amount of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in next year, also known as the fiscal cliff. At issue is a disagreement over how to best raise revenues. President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats argue for tax rate increase on the wealthiest Americans in order to raise revenue, while House Republicans call for the closing of loopholes and reform in the tax code.
Both parties have indicated a willingness to implement spending cuts, although a decision over how much and where has yet to be made.
In the upcoming week, the labor unions' commercials will appear in states with Democratic senators considered by some on the left as potentially more willing to support some major spending cuts that the unions would oppose.
The groups specifically caution against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education.
"If you are in the DC area and watching the Cowboys v. Redskins pre-game, you'll see the ad," the official told CNN. "If you are in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Missouri or even Alaska and you are watching the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving or College football on Saturday, there's a good chance you will see the ad. And if you are online shopping or listening to the radio on Black Friday, the ad will be there too."
The television ads specifically urge voters to call Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall in Colorado, Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia, and Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. The radio ads, meanwhile, target Reps. Patrick Meehan and Michael Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania, Rep. Don Young in Alaska at Large and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in Missouri.
"There's a debate going on in Washington about the best way to move the country forward and reduce the deficit. But there's one thing that both parties can agree on: We shouldn't raise taxes on the middle class. But if Congress fails to act soon, that's exactly what will happen," the narrator in the radio ad says.
"Middle class families can't afford that. And our economy can't afford that, either," the narrators continues. "Congress should act quickly to preserve the middle class tax cuts. And that will take leaders willing to put people ahead of partisan politics."
The new ads come as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has also run television ads, educating viewers on the fiscal cliff issue and arguing to keep "Medicare and Social Security strong for generations to come."
Last week, President Barack Obama sat down with Congressional leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for a first round of negotiations.
Days earlier, the president met with leaders of the business community, as well as unions and progressive groups, to discuss the fiscal cliff and various options. In the session with labor and progressives, the president delivered a "strong" and "determined" defense of his intent to allow the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire while preserving cuts for middle-income earners, according to conversations with several who attended.