Obama used his campaign-style stop in an industrial park just outside Philadelphia to press Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to send him a bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the first $250,000 of income. He said that would prevent tax rates on all Americans from rising Jan. 1 and would give lawmakers more time to address longer-term problems, such as the country's deepening budget deficit.
"I'm hopeful, but I'm going to need folks like you people here in Hatfield, in Pennsylvania and all across this country to get this done," the president said. "It's not acceptable to me, nor is it acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they do not want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up."
The trip to The Rodon Group manufacturing facility came as the congressional Republican leadership derided as unrealistic Obama's proposal to avert the fiscal cliff by raising $1.6 trillion through tax increases over 10 years, spending billions more to stimulate the economy and instituting a permanent solution to the fights over raising the nation's debt ceiling. Unless the White House and Congress agree on a plan, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire at the end of December and $109 billion in automatic federal-spending reductions -- called a sequester -- will take effect Jan. 2.
"In Washington, nothing's easy, so there's going to be some prolonged negotiations," Obama told the audience of workers and company executives. He added that "all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen," though Republicans say his proposal offers little in the way of compromise.
If the politicians' patience is wearing thin, so is the American public's. Few in the audience at the president's rally said they had much tolerance for the back and forth in the nation's capital.
"Frankly, everyone's a little worried and tired of hearing about it," said Robert Ulmer, 58, a mold maker at the factory. "People would feel better about Christmas without this."
Ulmer, who voted for Obama, said he thought Republicans who said the president should've stayed in Washington to negotiate might have a point, given the cost of the trip, "with the security and all."
Still, Ulmer said he expected a deal to be forged before Christmas -- or New Year's Eve.
"I don't think either side can afford not to," Ulmer said. "Obama doesn't want to be Herbert Hoover, two recessions on his watch. They'll get it done."