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President Barack Obama set aside his stance as compromiser-in-chief to champion the populist cause of “fairness” for the middle class in the struggle over how to bring down the nation’s budget deficit.

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) — Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, talks about President Barack Obama‘s call for $1.5 trillion in tax increases over the next decade, largely targeting the wealthy, to help trim the deficit. Norquist speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness With Margaret Brennan.”

Obama yesterday targeted the rich for $1.5 trillion in tax increases over the next decade and threatened to veto any cut to benefits under the Medicare health-insurance plan for the elderly unless wealthy Americans pay higher taxes.

“This is a more confrontational approach than Obama has taken for quite a while,” said Dan Schnur, a campaign adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2000. “He’s spent a lot of time trying to be a conciliator. No more. As of today, he’s decided to pick a fight with Republicans.”

Obama’s deficit-reduction package is a rebuff to House Speaker John Boehner, who last week declared tax increases “off the table” and urged a 12-member congressional supercommittee charged with reducing the deficit to focus on scaling back entitlement programs such as Medicare.

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