WASHINGTON — President Obama is heading back out on the campaign trail this week — this time to pressure Congress to extend the expiring middle-class tax cuts.
On Friday, Obama plans to travel to Hatfield, Pa., for an event at a toy factory that according to the White House “depends on middle-class consumers during the holiday season.”
Lest anyone miss the holiday spin of this public campaign, the White House issued an analysis Monday predicting how the automatic tax increases could hurt the winter shopping season. Obama is expected to mention its findings, including its estimate that the hike would put a $200-billion crimp in consumer spending in 2013.
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Of course, Republicans are perfectly amenable to extending the Bush-era tax cuts as a complete package. But aides to Obama are reiterating that he won’t go along with a deal that extends the cuts for high earners.
Staffers on all sides are working now to come up with an agreement that will avert the expiration of the tax cuts as well as the federal government spending cuts set to take effect the end of the year.
Just how hard Obama plans to hit the “Grinch” message at this point in the talks isn’t clear. The politics of a deal call for a delicate balance of partisan interests — no easy task so soon after the acrimonious fall campaigns.
For much of this week, the campaign will take place behind closed doors. On Tuesday Obama is scheduled to meet with small retailers whose profits depend significantly on holiday sales.
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On Wednesday, he has scheduled an event at the White House with middle-class Americans who responded to an email from senior advisor David Plouffe seeking accounts of how a tax increase would affect them. He’ll also meet that day with business leaders.
But on Friday, Obama is set to go to Pennsylvania to visit the 150 employees of the Rodon Group factory.
The facility makes toys for K’NEX Brands, whose products include popular items of Christmases past and present — Tinkertoys and Angry Bird Building Sets.
Republicans are planning their own public campaign on the tax fight. House members are planning events at small businesses to argue the merits of extending all of the Bush-era tax cuts.
"The target of the president’s rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "To draw attention to the irresponsible position of Democrats in Congress, House Republicans will be taking our message to small businesses across America."
[For the Record, 8:44 a.m. PST Nov. 27: This post has been updated to include Republican plans for a public campaign on taxes.]