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Obama makes case for extending payroll tax cuts

President Barack Obama talks extending payroll tax cuts, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, in the White House briefing room in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama talks extending payroll tax cuts, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, in the White House briefing room in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama pressured Republicans in Congress on Monday to extend a payroll tax cut, saying the economic recovery is "still fragile" and middle class families need the money.

"My message to Congress is this: Keep your word to the American people and don't raise taxes on them right now. Now's not the time to slam on the brakes. Now's the time to step on the gas," Obama said at the White House. He said despite a decline in the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent in November, "our recovery is still fragile" and the nation's economy could be hurt by economic turbulence in Europe.

The president has been seeking an extension and expansion to the payroll tax cut that will expire at the end of the year. The White House says taxes on the average family would increase by $1,000 if the cuts are not extended.

To make its point, the White House went so far as to put up a countdown clock during spokesman Jay Carney's briefing to show when middle-class taxes would go up "if Congress doesn't act."

Some Republicans in Congress support the extension but the parties have been split on how to pay for it. Obama noted that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have expressed support for the extension, adding, "I hope the rest of their Republican colleagues come around."

Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, said there was widespread support for extending the payroll tax cuts but if "the president wants to make progress he should insist that Senate Democrats remove the job-killing small business tax hike from their partisan proposal."

Senate Democrats have rolled out a compromise that would drop Obama's proposal to award the tax cut to employers, bringing the cost of the plan down.

Obama also said for Congress to end its work this year without extending unemployment insurance would be a "terrible mistake" and leave "1.3 million Americans out in the cold."

The White House has called for an extension of benefits that can cover up to 99 weeks for the long-term jobless. State unemployment insurance programs guarantees coverage for six months, but Congress approved additional benefits in 2008. Expiration of those payments would mean an average loss of nearly $300 in weekly income for more than 1 million households in January.

Comments

kevin 2 years, 9 months ago

The Party of NO is back in business again. Obama, please tell the people the whole story if you can ever get that yellow streak off your back. The Democrats want to tax, tax, tax. Stop the payroll tax cut because this is only making the social security system more broke idiot. The government has borrowed so much from our SS system over the past 20 yrs, no wonder it is going broke. Tell that to the people and while you are at it, tell us why you haven't paid the system back? This government wants SS to fail and then they complain when the GOP comes up with alternatives. The Donkey still don't get it. Just wait until 2012 and the rest of them will be going home to their wives ( other partner)!!

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kevin 2 years, 9 months ago

What NO ONE is telling you is that your SS pension is based on what you put into it. If you start cutting 50% of what you put into it, then your pension will be a lot smaller when you start getting it. How about that!! SO keep asking for government handouts because you will feel the effects when you retire. Instead, you should be asking Obama about his statement: He was for main street, not wall street. Then why didn't he give each one of us $20,000 to spend on the economy instead of giving those billions to wall street? Hello out there? Wake up!

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