President Barack Obama visited a toy factory in Hatfield Township on Friday, citing it as an example of the type of business that would suffer if Congress does not act soon to prevent the country from running over the "fiscal cliff," a series of tax increases and cuts in spending that are due to come into effect at the beginning of the new year.
In remarks broadcast live on C-SPAN, Obama called Hatfield-based K'Nex, which makes kits of interlocking pieces that allow children to construct their own toys, "one of the few companies in the toy industry that has aggressively moved jobs back here [to the U.S. from overseas],"
The President said middle-class consumers will have money "to buy more K'Nex" if Democratic and Republican legislators can "get out of our comfort zones" to reach a compromise that would extend payroll tax cuts. Middle class families will pay an average of $2,200 more in taxes in 2013 if the tax cuts expire, Obama said.
Obama asked that people make sure their "voices are heard" by their local federal legislators.
"I need folks like you, the people here in Hatfield and in Pennsylvania, to get this done," Obama said.
Republicans, meanwhile, said the "massive spending spree" of Obama's "Democrat allies" in Congress was to blame for leading the country towards the "fiscal cliff." A statement sent to the media Friday by the Republican National Committee said Obama's proposal to raise taxes on small businesses and individuals earning more than $250,000 per year would cause the loss of an estimated 30,800 jobs in Pennsylvania.
Locally, a Perkiomen Township business owner served as the standard bearer for the Republican message. Jerry Gorski, owner of Gorski Engineering, starred in a video issued by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
"This notion of $250,000 being the top two percent or the wealthy people in America ignores the way most small businesses work in America," Gorski said in the video.
About a half mile from the site of the President's visit, a group of anti-tax activists staged a protest along the shoulder of Route 309.
The President traveled from Philadelphia International Airport, where he landed shortly after 11:00 a.m., to Hatfield aboard the Marine One helicopter, which minimized the road closures that would have been associated with a traditional motorcade. Security was predictably tight in the vicinity of the K'Nex premises, as a network of law enforcement professionals from across Montgomery County coordinated to strictly control access the landing zone.