Obama Addresses Manufacturing Challenges, Fiscal Cliff at Rodon Facility

American manufacturing and small business landed front and center on President Barack Obama’s public push for a congressional deal that would prevent higher taxes and budget cuts from automatically kicking in at the end of the year, a scenario known as the “fiscal cliff.”

The president stopped today in Hatfield, Penn., to tour the manufacturing facilities of the Rodon Group, an injection molding company that makes toys for the popular K’NEX brand, as well as components for the medical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and construction industries, among others, before giving his remarks.

With just a month to go before the fiscal cliff deadline, Obama has embarked on a series of public appearances in support of his plan to avert the cliff. His stop at Rodon was a full-court press on House Republicans to settle on a deal. “The reason I’m here is because I want the American people to urge Congress in the next two weeks to begin the work we all agreed on… [that] both parties agreed to extend the middle class taxes,” the president said.

Speaking on Rodon’s plant floor, flanked by rows of the manufacturer’s K’NEX toys and injection molding and part-handling equipment, Obama was intent on delivering a message to Congress and House Republicans to save the middle class and small businesses from tax increases. He urged Republicans in Congress not to “hold middle-class taxes hostage just because they don’t want tax rates on upper income folks to go up.

“I believe America is only strong when we have a thriving middle class,” the president continued. “That’s what the founders of this company [Rodon] believe as well. I want to reward manufacturers like this one and small businesses that create jobs here in the United States, not overseas.”

The White House and Republicans in Congress remain at an impasse after the GOP reportedly dismissed an initial economic package by the Obama administration that would raise an additional $1.6 trillion in tax revenue — part of it from raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year — along with extending unemployment insurance benefits and payroll tax cuts.

Obama is sticking to his election promise of preserving the tax rates for the middle class while ending tax breaks on upper incomes. Republicans remain committed to preserving the Bush-era tax cuts across the board and raising revenues by closing tax loopholes and capping deductions. The White House’s package does include provisions to close loopholes and limit deductions, as well, but Republicans are said to have balked at the plan’s call for an additional $50 billion in economic stimulus spending.

Obama noted that small and mid-sized manufacturers such as Rodon, which employs about 200 people, depend on middle-class consumers during the holiday season and beyond, and if the Bush-era tax cuts were allowed to terminate at the end of the year, businesses would suffer the devastating consequences of lower consumer confidence and reduced spending. This poses a severe threat for Rodon and other manufacturers whose businesses rely on moving high-volume consumer goods.

A recently released White House report says that the fiscal cliff could cost a middle-class family of four $2,200 in added taxes in 2013. “A typical middle class family of four will see their income taxes go up by $2,000; that’s plenty families can’t afford to lose,” Obama said.

He then elaborated further. “Just the other day, Congress said if income taxes go up on the middle class, people will spend nearly $200 billion less in stores and online,” he said. “That’s not good for our businesses. Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike for 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their taxes go up by a single dime, because 97 percent of small businesses make $250,000 or less [annually].”

Obama took time to praise Rodon and U.S. industry. “We need champions for American industry,” the president said.

Before the president’s speech, Michael Araten, president and CEO of Rodon and K’NEX Brands, gave opening remarks to an energetic audience of special guests and national and local media.

“We are a third-generation American family business,” Araten said. “We build the [things] kids love right here in the U.S.A.,” he said, before noting that Rodon has been an instrumental part of reshoring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from countries like China. “We have reshored over $100 million in manufacturing [since the recession began in 2008].”

Araten noted that manufacturing is an important part of the country’s productivity and innovation, and that those principles are what drives Rodon and enables it to compete with much larger companies worldwide.

“We have the best workers in the world,” Obama later noted. “I want to give more Americans the chance to learn the skills that businesses are looking for right now.

“And I believe both parties can and will work together in the coming weeks. I’m hopeful members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that,” the president added. “The clock is ticking right now on middle class taxes. It’s too important not to get done. Let’s keep the economy on the right track.”



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  • November 30, 2012

    Will we ever see bipartisan politics in our country again? The fringe element within the Republican Party has pushed them all to the far right of the isle where they’ve gridlocked our government for two years now. Will the next two be any different? They’ve been very public about their main goal being to block and bamboozle the President’s every move. It takes many hands to paint the Blackface on Obama. See my visual report of his makeup session at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/10/bamboozling-obama.html

    • Ras
      November 30, 2012

      Will we ever see the Democrats be bi-partisan? The fringe element of the Democrats, which in this case is the majority, has pushed them so far left they have cut-off any attempt at bipartisanship. The Democrats have been very public about their refusal to debate and bring up for votes in the Senate any budget coming out of the House. And to see any criticism of President Obama as racist is itself racism. Let’s end the accusations and name calling. If we are to have real change in Washington then they need to negotiate and debate in public, not behind closed doors. The one thing that made the compromise between Clinton and Gingrich work was the fact that both sat face to face many days and carved out compromise. For that to happen our President (and he is OUR President) needs to stay is DC, roll up his sleeves and discuss solutions. Not his team, not from the podium in a toy factory but in person DC in the same room working together for the true good of all Americans.

    • Belinda
      December 5, 2012

      Obama is using my way or the highway, this isn’t the way it works. The Rep. have had over 36 proposals given to Reid and he knocks them down everytime before it can get to the floor. The main stream media doesn’t want you to know this of course. Please do your homework before making the judgements the left want you to make.

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