PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As part of his tour to promote congressional action to prevent the so-called "fiscal cliff," President Barack Obama will visit a suburban Philadelphia toy factory that manufactures parts for Tinker Toys, Angry Birds building sets, Nintendo and other product lines.
Obama will speak Friday at The Rodon Group manufacturing facility in Hatfield. The company, founded in 1956, makes toys for K'NEX Brands, which grew out of The Rodon Group. The president is offering the company up as an example of a business that depends on middle-class consumers during the holiday season.
Michael Araten, president and CEO of both companies, said they moved $50 million worth of manufacturing from Chinese plants to the United States at the height of the recession. There are two 130,000 square-foot facilities in Hatfield, where workers make about 5 billion parts a year. Business is back above pre-crash levels, he said, and there are about 200 employees at the site — up 25 percent from the recession.
In addition to toys, the plant makes coffee filters, replacement window parts and other things.
Araten, a registered Democrat, said his company is an example of one that can dramatically be affected by the fiscal cliff, especially with the coming holiday season, because it can have a negative effect on consumer confidence.
"The fiscal cliff affects all businesses, affects discretionary spending," he said. "We are a 100 percent confidence based economy."
The president is campaigning to increase revenue by hiking taxes on families whose income is more than $250,000 as part of his negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff at year's end when across-the-board tax hikes and steep spending cuts kick in.
In a statement about Obama's visit Friday, the White House said it was urging Congress to act "to renew middle class tax cuts so families have a little more certainty at this critical time for our economy."
Republicans want significant cuts to programs like Medicare, such as an increase in the eligibility age for the program from 65 to perhaps 67. Many also oppose allowing taxes to rise on wealthy Americans, a key part of Obama's platform.