House GOP plans public push against tax hikes on businesses

President Obama won’t be the only one hitting the campaign trail to push his deficit plan to avert the fiscal cliff.

House Republicans are planning their own campaign-style events to argue against Obama’s insistence on higher tax rates for the wealthy, Speaker John Boehner’s office said Tuesday.

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As they have repeatedly, Republicans are targeting their message to small businesses, arguing that an increase in the marginal income rate over $250,000 a year will hit small-business owners who file as individuals.

Lawmakers will hold events and visit small businesses “to emphasize the threat to jobs posed by Congressional Democrats’ small-business tax hike,” the Speaker’s office said. Party leaders will also present members with a communications plan this week, and aides said the effort would include a coalition representing small businesses.

As part of the GOP push, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will meet with small business owners in his Capitol office next week.

Obama on Tuesday is holding an event at the White House with small-business owners to press his plan to extend George W. Bush-era tax rates only for family income up to $250,000, which Democrats say would protect 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses from a tax hike.

On Thursday, the president will head to Pennsylvania to campaign for his plan at a manufacturing facility.

The dueling public pushes are the latest indication that Democrats and Republicans are not close to an agreement that would stave off a series of tax increases and spending cuts sets to begin taking effect on Jan. 1. Officials close to the negotiations say the talks have proceeded slowly since Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House on Nov. 16.

“Republicans understand that we must avert the fiscal cliff and have laid out a framework to do so that is consistent with the ‘balanced’ approach the president says he wants,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “In contrast, Democrats in Congress have downplayed the danger of going over the cliff and continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement to reduce the deficit. The target of the president’s rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending.”

Boehner (R-Ohio) has said Republicans would consider new revenue – but not higher tax rates – if it is coupled with spending cuts and entitlement reforms. Obama and other Democratic leaders say simply eliminating deductions and loopholes, without raising rates on the wealthy, will not generate enough revenue to produce a “balanced” deficit reduction plan.