Obama to bring tax pitch to Pa.

Obama State of the Union
President Barack Obama is expected to urge higher taxes on the wealthy, propose steps to make college more affordable and offer new remedies for the still worrisome housing crisis. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

President Obama, often criticized in his first term for not taking his case to the public, clearly intends to avoid that critique when it comes to the fiscal cliff, particularly in Pennsylvania.

The president is planning to visit Montgomery County Friday to make the case for extending existing tax breaks for families earning $250,000 or less -- which covers 98 percent of Americans.

As colleague Tom Fitzgerald first reported, Obama is planning to stop by The Rodon Group manufacturing site in Hatfield, PA. The Rodon Group is the sole American manufacturer for K’NEX Brands, a construction toy company whose products include Tinkertoy, K’NEX Building Sets and Angry Bird Building Sets. The company has more than 150 workers in Hatfield.  

The visit comes on the heels of a White House report released Monday highlighting the impact of the fiscal cliff on middle class families -- the report warned that looming tax hikes could cost a family of four $2,200 in added taxes next year unless a deal is made to avoid the increases.

Obama has been vocally pushing for extending middle-class tax breaks ever since his election, saying Congress should keep taxes down for the vast majority of Americans even while he and Republicans negotiate over raising taxes for those making more than that amount. He has primarily made his argument from the White House, but now appears poised to go on the road as he increases his public outreach. He is also meeting with business leaders in Washington this week as part of his pitch.

Obama wants to increase tax rates on incomes of more than $250,000 a year, while Republicans say any rate hike on any income level would hurt businesses and the economy. The GOP has instead argued for adding revenue by closing tax loopholes and capping some deductions.

Both sides say they want to minimize any impact on the middle class, but disagreements on government spending and other tax breaks are in the way of a deal.

The debate has dominated the discussion since Election Day and Obama's message on middle class tax rates has been echoed by prominent local voices including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), who is planning a hearing on the fiscal cliff. Now, Obama is coming to Pennsylvania to make his case himself.