Obama: No K’NEX for naughty lawmakers

Olivier Knox

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry?

Pushing his tax plan at a factory that makes K'NEX building toys, President Barack Obama warned lawmakers on Friday that he was keeping his own "naughty and nice list."

"Santa delivers everywhere. I've been keeping my own naughty and nice list for Washington," the president told K'NEX employees. "So you should keep your eye on who gets some K'NEX this year. There are going to be some members of Congress who get 'em, and some who don't."

The president has been promoting his plan to raise taxes on income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families but extend Bush-era rate reductions below that. Republican leaders have pushed to extend all the rates.

The tax dispute is part of negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff"—a blend of sweeping tax hikes and deep government spending cuts that could plunge the economy into a new recession.

A White House aide said Obama was touring the K'NEX manufacturing site in the Philadelphia suburbs, because the company relies on middle-class consumers who would be hit hard if Bush-era tax rates expire across the board. The Obama administration says a typical middle-class family could have to pay Uncle Sam an additional $2,200 per year if the rates expire Jan. 1.

Workers at the K'NEX site make 3,000 K'NEX pieces every minute, Obama said after a tour of the plant with a founder of the company, Joel Glickman.

"It makes me wish that Joel had invented this stuff a little sooner when I was a kid. Back then, you couldn't really build a roller coaster out of your Erector set," Obama said.

Like some Republican lawmakers, Vice President Joe Biden shouldn't expect to get a K'NEX set, the president said—but for a different reason.

"Joe Biden was at Costco. He wanted to buy some of this stuff," the president said. "But I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn't going to have him building roller coasters all day long."