Advocates for older people are warning the negotiators to keep their hands off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "We didn't put out the resources that we did to elect the president and others to have them turn around and cut these programs," said Eric Kingson, co-director of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, a group of more than 300 advocacy groups and labor unions.
The defense industry is fighting against spending cuts that would bite weapons makers. The National Association of Manufacturers warns that 1 million private-sector jobs could be lost if pending cuts to defense spending go through.
Companies that make medical devices are trying to stop new taxes on their products under the new health care law. The Charitable Giving Coalition warns that benevolent donations will suffer if they're no longer tax deductible.
A coalition of medical research groups called Research! America is trying to cut through the noise with stark ads likening spending cuts to poison: "WARNING: Washington politics just might kill you."
Many advocacy groups are pressing their cases directly. Labor leaders and several business CEOs met Obama at the White House last week, while mayors came to Capitol Hill to make a case to lawmakers against cutting aid to cities.
"Cities have already been at the fiscal cliff - we've cut our budgets, we've cut our staffs," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "We recognize that tough decisions have to be made, but at the same time we have to make sure that we have a seat at the table. As some say in Philadelphia, if you're not at the table, you're on the menu."
That's a familiar refrain - almost everyone acknowledges that money has to be cut, no one wants it to be theirs.
Advocates for the oil and gas industry say they fully expect the tax breaks they enjoy to be on the table. After all, Obama has been targeting them for years. So, unlike other years when their lobbyists might seek to improve the industry's hand, the more modest goal this year is to minimize the damage.
"We're certainly not asking for anything on Capitol Hill," said Brian Johnson, senior tax adviser for the American Petroleum Institute.
The institute has started an ad campaign aimed at senators from seven states - all of them up for re-election in 2014. One is Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
"Sen. Mark Warner can make energy a big part of improving our economy," says a TV commercial. "He can choose economic growth and American jobs, not slow them with job-killing energy taxes."