and needs to come down," Mr. Engler said. "We're in the position of
saying everything is on the table."
The new campaign raises the stakes in the fight over U.S. fiscal policy, which is set to dominate the agenda in Washington through the end of the year, and comes during an increase in lobbying by chief executives on Capitol Hill.
"My sense is that their primary motivation is avoiding recession," said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the liberal- leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. "But I think the key to whether they are serious or just posturing is the question of taxes, and if they're truly willing to support raising more revenues."
Still, big business has plenty to gain if some elements of what the groups are pushing for become law.
The Fix the Debt campaign was created by Erskine B. Bowles and Alan K. Simpson, who were chairmen of a presidential commission charged with developing a blueprint for fiscal change and deficit reduction in 2010, and the group backs many of their recommendations.
The Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt campaigns suggest that they could pay for the corporate rate reduction by "broadening the base," closing loopholes and eliminating many deductions. Some critics say they doubt that would bring in enough revenue to compensate for reducing taxes on corporations, eventually shifting some of the burden to small businesses and individuals.
Advocates for low-income and older people have also criticized the Simpson-Bowles plan, saying it would keep tax rates on businesses and wealthy Americans at levels below the historical average and underwrite that by cutting Social Security, the government retirement program, and Medicare, the government health insurance program for older people and the disabled.
Fix the Debt also has the backing of Peter G. Peterson, who has advocated cutting Social Security and other elements of the safety net to pay for debt reduction. Other corporate backers include Mark T. Bertolini, the chief executive of the insurer Aetna, and Gregory Q. Brown, the chief executive of the electronics manufacturer Motorola.
Maya MacGuineas, the head of the campaign, played down the suggestion that the Fix the Debt campaign had a particular agenda. "We're not advocating specific solutions," she said.
The executives backing the campaign, she said, want to "put in place a debt deal. I see this as people who are focused on what they see as a real threat to their businesses and employees."
With the start of the ad campaigns, chief executives could soon find themselves in the middle of one of Washington's toughest political battles in years.
Politicians from across the spectrum say they wanted to avoid the threat posed by tax increases and budget reductions, but the thorniest issue is likely to be making changes in tax policy. Indeed, even as votes from the U.S. presidential election were still being tallied in some states, Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans began signaling their positions.
The president favors extending Bush-era tax cuts for all but the top 2 percent of earners. John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said last week that the election had not given a mandate for a tax increase, and he has insisted that tax cuts be extended for everyone.
Those positions are so far apart, and so deeply entrenched, that most in Washington expect some short-term extension of the Bush-era cuts to be passed, giving Congress and the White House time to overhaul the tax system and take on the issue of spending cuts.
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