President Obama walks on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington. (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
WASHINGTON – President Obama heads to a toy factory in Pennsylvania on Friday with a Christmastime message for Republicans: Extend the middle-class tax cuts or risk hurting businesses such as The Rodon Group, the maker of Tinkertoy and Angry Birds building sets.
With Obama’s televised trek to the factory floor in Hatfield, the message war between the two sides goes visual and sharpens with the seasonal competition for consumers’ attention. Obama is expected to reiterate that any deal with Congress must ask the wealthiest to pay higher tax rates.
House Republicans countered with a public relations campaign of their own, tapping the president and chief executive of Gorski Engineering, a small business located about 15 miles from the president’s stop, where the owner is concerned about possible tax hikes.
“The president is heading to Pennsylvania today in full campaign mode to make the argument to the American people that tax-rate increases are the only solution to our nation’s economic woes,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the majority whip. “He’s wrong. What our country needs is a boost in economic growth so our job creators, like Jerry Gorski, can start hiring again. Tax rate increases don't stimulate economic growth. They drain small businesses of the capital they need to grow and expand their operation.”
At a campaign-style stop in a swing state that he won, the president will call on congressional Republicans to “stop holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they refuse to let tax rates go up for the wealthiest Americans,” a White House official said Friday morning.
Obama wants the GOP-controlled House to follow the Democratic-led Senate and pass a bill to ensure that 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses don’t see their taxes go up at the end of the year.
Talks about resolving the nation’s year-end budget crisis slowed this week when Republicans rejected the latest White House offer and Democrats stood by Obama’s insistence that wealthier Americans must pay more in taxes.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) says he is “disappointed” in the state of play at the end of a week in which he spoke by phone with Obama and met with the administration’s lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Geithner presented the White House’s latest offer, similar to its opening bid: $1.6 trillion in new revenue, largely from tax hikes on the wealthy, alongside cuts the president proposed in his budget.
The White House also wants $50 billion in new stimulus spending, homeowner mortgage refinancing aid, $30 billion in extended unemployment benefits and an increase in the debt ceiling, necessary in a few months to prevent a default.
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