WASHINGTON -- In a last-ditch effort to persuade the White House to hold its line on the expiring Bush tax cuts, the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org is making a major national ad buy, calling on President Barack Obama to let the rates for the wealthy return to Clinton-era levels.
MoveOn, which has been careful in choosing the fights it has picked with the Obama administration, adopts a mildly confrontational tone in the spot, titled "Obama Back," which is set to air on CNN, MSNBC and the cable network Oxygen.
Made up primarily of testimonials from some of its 5 million members, the spot more or less responds with disappointment to the president's decision to leave the tax-cut dilemma to a bipartisan commission.
"What's happened to that bold, progressive man we elected President in 2008?" one woman asks.
"The guy who stands for all the people and is not gonna let himself get pushed around?" follows a man.
The ad likely comes too late, however. The White House is acutely aware that they will provoke anger should they cut a deal and extend the tax cuts for the rich, as is expected. They've just concluded that failing to reach such an agreement -- and letting all the rates expire -- would yield rage that far outweighs progressive disappointments.
Still, lawmakers and organizations see some utility in planting their flag on the issue. And for MoveOn to go after Obama directly at this juncture underscores the growing sentiment that progressive groups get more traction from calling out the White House than being allied with it.
"MoveOn members worked countless hours to help elect President Obama so we would have a leader who would go to the mat for regular Americans," MoveOn Executive Director Justin Ruben said. "At a time when most Americans -- including our members -- are struggling to make ends meet, and local governments are laying off badly needed teachers and firemen, we need the Obama of 2008 back to lead the fight and make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share."