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In a campaign-style speech at a Pennsylvania factory Friday, President Barack Obama accused congressional Republicans of holding the middle class hostage to protect tax cuts for the rich.

Speaking at the Rodon Manufacturing Group in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, Obama reiterated his desire for Congress to extend tax cuts on incomes under $250,000, while allowing the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes over $250,000 to expire.

“It’s not acceptable to me and I don’t think it’s acceptable to you for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they don’t want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up,” the president said.

Warning that a tax hike would be a “lump of coal” leading to a “Scrooge Christmas” for middle-class families, Obama declared once again that he is “ready to sign” an extension of the tax cuts from which 98 percent of Americans currently benefit.

“There are [sic] no shortage of pens in the White House and I carry one around for an emergency, just in case,” he joked. Obama added, “The sooner Congress gets this done, the sooner our economy will get a boost.”

The event represented the president’s first campaign-style event since winning re-election just over three weeks ago. In his speech, he declared that the results of the election prove that the American people are on his side in the tax cut argument.

“We talked about this a lot… We had debates about it. There were a lot of TV commercials about it,” Obama said. “At the end of the day, a clear majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents — they agreed with a balanced approach to deficit reduction and making sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up.”

Video of Obama’s speech is below, via Politico.

House Speaker John Boehner spoke in Washington shortly after Obama’s speech concluded, and blasted the president’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff negotations as “the wrong approach.”

“The White House hasn’t yet made a serious proposal,” Boehner said.

“There is a stalemate. Let’s not kid ourselves,” he added.

On Thursday, congressional Republicans rejected Obama’s offer to cut $4 trillion from the deficit in exchange for $1.6 trillion in revenue from increasing tax rates on top earners along with capital gains and dividends (in addition to other tax reform), a $50 billion stimulus package, and raising the debt ceiling.

While Boehner claimed that Republicans are willing to “negotiate in good faith,” he also stressed that their “original framework stands.”

A transcript of Obama’s comments can be read here.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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