WASHINGTON (AP) — One trip, two money pitches. President Barack Obama wants more money in the pockets of U.S. workers — and in his campaign treasury.
With both goals in mind, the president was to travel Wednesday to swing-state Pennsylvania to press his case for a bigger temporary payroll tax cut that will boost paychecks. He then will descend on donor-rich New York City to raise money for his already flush re-election bid.
The one-day trip to Scranton, Pa., and New York illustrates the dual policy and political demands on Obama as the 2012 campaign season nears. It also draws attention to the different audiences that politicians must court, particularly in a weak economy.
Obama is pushing Congress to extend and expand this year’s payroll tax cut, a move designed to increase consumer demand and boost the economy. If Congress does not act by year’s end, the full payroll tax of 6.2 percent would be restored, increasing taxes on 160 million Americans.
As the deadline approaches, bipartisan political support is building for at least continuing the tax cut — heading off a politically bruising tax hike. But Obama wants the cost of the payroll tax cut to be made up by an increase in taxes on taxpayers who earn more than $1 million, a trade-off that Republicans reject.
In selecting Scranton to make his appeal, Obama is venturing into the birthplace of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania Democrat who is the author of the payroll tax cut plan in the Senate.
The White House said Obama would meet with a Scranton family in their home before delivering a speech at Scranton High School.
Obama won Pennsylvania with 54 percent of the vote in 2008, but the state of the economy could put it in play in 2012. Its proximity to Washington and its political importance have made it a favorite stopping place for Obama and Biden. The trip comes as Obama steps up his re-election campaign, rolling out two ads that call on supporters to begin to mobilize.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, while conceding that the re-election effort is under way, played down politics as a factor in Obama’s Scranton visit.
“It’s part of his responsibility, serving the American people, to get out and be among them and to speak with them about his agenda or her agenda,” he said.
In New York, Obama will attend three fundraisers: one at a private residence where tickets begin at $10,000; one at the Greenwich Village restaurant Gotham Bar and Grill at $35,800 per ticket; and a reception at the Sheraton Hotel, where tickets begin at $1,000. The money will be split between the Democratic National Committee and the Obama re-election campaign.
Obama also is scheduled to attend a reception celebrating progress on gay rights and the six-month anniversary of New York’s approval of gay marriage. Obama has been supportive of gay and lesbian causes but has yet to declare his support for gay marriage.