REDFORD, MI - DECEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Daimler Detroit Diesel engine plant December 10, 2012 in Redford, Michigan. The President and Congress have not yet come to an agreement regarding how to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year (the so-called "fiscal cliff"). Republicans in Congress want the tax cuts to continue to apply to all tax payers, whereas the President wants them to apply only to tax payers who earn less than $250,000 a year. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is trying to spend what former President George W. Bush called “political capital.”

That’s the good will and clout you get from a re-election victory. Obama’s predecessor boasted after his 2004 win that he’d amassed political capital and planned to “spend it” in his second term.

Obama is now trying to do the same ting, standing firm with Republicans in negotiations on averting the year-end fiscal cliff and refusing to budge on his insistence that top tax rates — not just overall tax revenues— go up in any bipartisan fiscal deal.

Clearly, his re-election win has given him more leverage.

He campaigned on letting Bush-era tax cuts expire for households earning over $250,000 a year. And polls show that if Congress can’t agree in the next three weeks and the economy goes over the “fiscal cliff” triggering large automatic spending cuts and tax increases, more voters will blame Republicans than Democrats.

Obama met House Speaker John Boehner Sunday for a rare one-on-one talk about the crisis. Otherwise, he’s been busy presenting his case elsewhere — including Monday’s campaign-like visit to Michigan auto workers.

Republicans gripe the president should be in Washington negotiating — not still out campaigning.

Obama says he’s mindful of “presidential overreach in second terms” and will proceed cautiously. Still, “I didn’t get reelected just to bask in reelection.”

Of course Bush found he had far less political capital than he’d imagined.

He campaigned across the country in early 2005 for a plan to partially privatize Social Security. After months on the road, he realized he couldn’t even sell his plan to many members of his own party on Capitol Hill.

Right now, Democrats are giving Obama running room. “He gets his way — up to a point,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.