President takes fiscal plan to Pennsylvania


The president left Washington for Pennsylvania, where he hopes to mobilize public support for reaching a deal with Congress over taxes and spending cuts.

Mr. Obama spoke at a toy factory, arguing that allowing taxes to rise for the middle class would amount to a "lump of coal" for Christmas. The president is trying to push for a deal that would include extending Bush-era tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less, while increasing tax rates for the wealthy, which Republicans oppose.

The Republicans are blasting the latest plan offered by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that includes $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the next five years.

"Without spending cuts and entitlement reforms, it's going to be impossible to address our country's debt crisis," said House Speaker John Boehner.

The Ohio Republican said the plan would be a "crippling blow" to a struggling economy, but added that he would continue working with the president to reach a deal.

"There's a stalemate. Let's not kid ourselves," Boehner said. "Right now, we're almost nowhere."

Mr. Obama said he believed Republicans and Democrats "can and will work together" to reach an agreement to get its long-term deficit under control "in a way that's balanced and is fair."

"In Washington, nothing's easy, so there is going to be some prolonged negotiations, and all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen," he said. "I'm willing to do that. I'm hopeful that enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well."

One new feature in the Geithner plan is a call for increasing the nation's debt limit without the need for congressional approval. Under last year's debt ceiling deal, Obama simply had to notify Congress that he was raising the debt ceiling, a move that could be blocked only if both houses of Congress approved resolutions of disapproval that Obama could veto. The administration wants a permanent extension of the debt ceiling with a similar legislative arrangement and with no offsetting spending cuts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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