Hatfield — President Obama visited The Rodon Group Friday as part of his tour to promote his plan to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’ The Montgomery County company manufactures K’NEX and Tinkertoy parts, among others.
The President chose the manufacturer as an apt setting for his advocacy of the middle class and domestic growth in an effort to strike a balance between deficit reduction and economic stimulus measures – especially in the holiday season.
“These guys are Santa’s extra elves here,” Obama joked. “They manufacture almost 3,000 K’NEX pieces every minute. And every box that ends up on store shelves in 30 countries is stamped ‘Made in America.’”
“Our ultimate goal, our long-term goal is to get our long-term deficit under control in a way that is balanced and is fair. That would be good for businesses, for our economy, for future generations.”
The remarks were in concert with Obama’s overall strategy of winning support from middle class families for his proposal for higher tax rates only on incomes above $250,000.
Prior to delivering his speech, he toured the factory and a tool room with company executives, Michael Araten, Joel Glickman, and Robert Glickman where he got opportunity to see the production process up close.
The audience of 350 included Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Phila) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montgomery) as well as Rodon executives and workers.
In his remarks, President Obama called upon both parties to work across the aisle for an agreement saying, “In Washington, nothing is easy, so there is going to be some prolonged negotiation. And all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen.”
The President asserted that if Congress refuses to take action, taxes will increase for the middle class across the country come January. He then discussed the particulars of Congress’ second option,
“Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income – everybody… 98 percent of Americans make $250,000 a year or less; 97 percent of small businesses make $250,000 a year or less. So…the vast majority of Americans, they don’t see a tax hike.”
Following the President’s remarks, Michael Araten, president and CEO of K’NEX spoke with the press about why he supports Obama’s overall strategy, even if it may present a cost to him at the outset.
“It will cost us a lot more money if demand is taken out of the system. If you lose $200 billion of discretionary spending from the American economy that is going to hurt businesses a lot more than the incremental 3 percent I might pay more on my taxes.”
Pennsylvania is a certainly a battleground as far as fiscal cliff negotiations are concerned with moderate Republican Congress members such as Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Delaware) saying that they will not be held to Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes.
Meanwhile, in nearby Warminster in Bucks County, Pa. Republicans held a counter-event.
Pa. Manufacturers Association Executive Director David Taylor called Obama’s plan one that would hurt businesses.
“The President’s obsessive fixation on tax increases fails to appreciate that most of Pennsylvania’s manufacturers are structured to pay business taxes at the personal rate,” he said. “Rather than being Scrooge McDuck rolling around in his big vault of money, the income earned by these employers represents the working capital of their business – the money available to maintain and expand their business operations, purchase new equipment, and expand payroll.”
The Bush-era tax cuts will expire automatically for all taxpayers on December 31.