By JIM KUHNHENN
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama is taking his case for avoiding a potentially unsettling "fiscal cliff" to the Philadelphia suburbs, employing campaign-style tactics in hopes of mobilizing public support for his plan to hike taxes on the wealthy. The trip comes amid signs of impatience in the negotiations between Republican leaders and the White House.
Obama was scheduled to go to Hatfield, Pa., to pressure Republicans to extend existing Bush-era tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less, while allowing increases to kick in for those with incomes above that threshold.
White House officials believe Friday's trip will build momentum for the president's case, even as Republicans describe it as an irritant and an obstacle to fruitful talks. The White House said Friday that Obama will insist on higher taxes for the top 2 percent of earners during his Pennsylvania trip and that he would cast Republicans as an obstacle to a deal. Republicans have said they are open to new tax revenue but not higher rates.Obama was to tour and speak at the Rodon Group manufacturing facility, showcasing the company as an example of a business that depends on middle-class consumers during the holiday season. The company manufactures parts for K'NEX Brands, a construction toy company whose products include Tinkertoy, K'NEX Building Sets and Angry Birds Building Sets. His trip comes a day after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met privately with congressional leaders and presented a proposal calling for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over 10 years and immediate spending to help the unemployed and struggling homeowners. The proposal, which Democratic officials described as a negotiation's opening bid, includes plans for legislation in 2013 aimed at saving $400 billion over 10 years from Medicare and other benefit programs. Administration officials said the offer constituted much of what Obama has suggested in budget proposals.