Top CEOs launch fiscal cliff ad blitz

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- CEOs of the nation's largest companies launched an advertising campaign on Tuesday, wagging a finger at Washington with a warning: Don't take our country over the fiscal cliff.

It may not be the first time that CEOs have come out publicly pushing for policy, but it's certainly the loudest. The ads were launched by the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group representing CEOs of top companies such as Honeywell International,Dow Chemical, Xerox and General Electric.

CEOs fear that protracted negotiations in Washington beyond the fiscal cliff deadline would deliver a blow to the economy much worse than last summer's tense debate over raising the federal debt ceiling on the amount the U.S. can legally borrow.

"If the last debt ceiling discussion was playing with fire, this time they're playing with nitroglycerin," said David Cote, CEO of Honeywell International.

The stakes are high for the president and Congress to find a consensus to avoid the fiscal cliff, which economists and CEOs agree would devastate the economy, taking down thousands of jobs and increasing taxes for millions of Americans.

At the end of this year, the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire, and on Jan. 2, automatic spending cuts will commence that amount to $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.

"Economic recovery will remain stalled until Washington resolves the fiscal crisis," says Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, in one of the ads.

The Business Roundtable ads will run on radio stations nationwide and in newspapers, said Amanda DeBard, a spokeswoman for the group. The campaign features 13 CEOs.

Burns and Cote will also be among those at the White House on Wednesday to talk with President Obama about ways to avert the fiscal cliff.

Other CEOs invited include: GE's Jeffrey Immelt, American Express's Kenneth Chenault, Wal-Mart's Mike Duke, Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris, Ford's Alan Mulally, Pepsico's Indra Nooyi, IBM's Ginni Rometty and Chevron's John Watson.

Another group, backed by GE and Honeywell called "Campaign to Fix the Debt," has launched a separate million-dollar advertising this week to push Washington leaders to avert the fiscal cliff. Those mimick well-known ads such as the "Got Milk" campaign from milk processors, and the "Just do it" ad from Nike.