Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Fiscal Cliff' Road Trip: Is Obama Trying to Paint GOP as Scrooge?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Fiscal Cliff' Road Trip: Is Obama Trying to Paint GOP as Scrooge?

Article excerpt

President Obama heads to suburban Philadelphia Friday for a campaign-style appearance at a toy factory, aimed at making the Republicans look like Scrooge: Vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts on everyone but the most wealthy, or you will ruin Christmas.

Specifically, the argument goes, middle-class Americans need certainty that their taxes wont go up in the new year, so they can shop for the holidays a boon to business and thus the nations consumer-based economy.

Mr. Obama speaks at noon Eastern time at the Rodon Group manufacturing facility in Hatfield, Pa., which makes such toys as KNEX and Tinkertoys. Rodon and KNEX Brands are third-generation family businesses that depend on middle-class consumers during the holidays, the White House says.

Today in Pennsylvania, expect President Obama to make clear that any deal reached with Congress must ask the wealthiest to pay higher tax rates, a White House official said in a statement. The president will be clear that the House needs to follow the Senate's lead and act so that 98 percent of Americans dont see their taxes go up at the end of the year and he 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.

But theres a problem with the Obama administrations argument on the need to act fast: The chances of an early agreement are zero to none. The nature of high-stakes negotiations is such that each side needs to show its constituents that it has held out as long as possible to fight for the best possible deal.

Since Thursday, when Obamas representatives went to Capitol Hill and presented an offer that Republican leaders called unserious, a deal has seemed as remote as ever.

According to Republicans, the White House plan included these provisions: almost $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade, a position that is way beyond acceptable to the GOP; a deferral of across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending; $400 billion in savings from entitlement programs to be determined later; $50 billion in stimulus spending on infrastructure; and an increase in the debt ceiling. …

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