* Republicans fear being blamed if there is no deal
* Obama to visit factory in Pennsylvania
By Fred Barbash
WASHINGTON, Nov 30 President Barack Obama,
reapplying his re-election campaign theme of protecting the
middle class, heads to Pennsylvania on Friday suggesting that
Republicans could spoil Christmas by driving the country over
the "fiscal cliff."
The president's road trip, visiting a factory that makes
Tinkertoys, is infuriating Republicans, with House of
Representatives Speaker John Boehner calling it a "victory lap"
Thursday as he rejected Obama's proposals to avoid the cliff,
which is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts set to
start taking effect in January.
But Boehner confronts challenges not only from Democrats but
increasingly from other Republicans, some of whom have advocated
greater flexibility than their leadership on Obama's demand that
Congress approve tax increases for the wealthy as well as extend
tax cuts for the middle class as part of a deal to avoid the
cliff. Most Republicans oppose raising any tax rates.
While Republicans are unhappy with the Obama's opening bid of
deficit reduction measures, drawn mostly from previous
presidential budget proposals, they are nervously eyeing the
markets as well as polls indicating that the public is likely to
blame Republicans if there is no deal at year's end to avoid the
tax increases and severe spending cuts that economists say could
tip the economy into a recession.
What the president is doing, Republican Representative Lee
Terry of Nebraska told MSNBC on Thursday, "is setting us up to
be the fall people for going over the fiscal cliff. And,
frankly, going over the fiscal cliff is a win for the president.
So either way, we're going to get it."
Obama will visit a manufacturing facility in Hatfield,
Pennsylvania, operated by The Rodon Group, a plastic-injection
molding company that supplies, among other things, Tinkertoys
and Angry Birds building sets for children.
"As we move into holiday season, Democrats and Republicans
should come together to renew middle class tax cuts so families
have more certainty at this critical time for our economy," the
White House said in announcing Friday's trip.