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Obama presses Congress to extend middle-class tax cuts

If Congress can't agree on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the president said taxes will rise by about $2,000 for the average family. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.

HATFIELD, Pa. --  President Obama today continued his efforts to push Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for income below $250,000 with a visit to a toy factory here in suburban Philadelphia.

"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.”

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The non-partisan Tax Policy Center says if these tax cuts expire at the end of the year -- as they are set to do -- about 90% of Americans would paid more in taxes and middle-income families would see their taxes rise by about $2,000.

Obama didn’t present any new ideas in his first speech since House Republicans rejected Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s proposal that he presented in meetings with congressional leadership yesterday. That proposal included $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and other programs, and ending Congress' control of the debt limit.

But Obama did couch his frustration with Congress in humor.

“I've been keeping my own naughty and nice lists for Washington," he said at a Rodon Group plant that makes the popular K'nex brand of toys. "So you should keep your eye on who gets K'NEX this year. There are going to be some members of Congress who get them, and some who don't."

Susan Walsh / AP

President Barack Obama looks over a rollercoaster with K'NEX Inventor Joel Glickman, left, and Rodon Group President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Araten, right, during a tour of the company in Hatfield, Pa. Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.

Even the seriousness of the country’s fiscal health couldn’t keep the president from joking about his affable vice president.

Talking about the colorful toys in the factory, Obama said, “Joe Biden was in Costco. He wanted to buy some of this stuff. But I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn't going to have him building roller coasters all day long.”