Obama Presses House on Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to increase pressure on the Republican-led House of Representatives to pass a bill extending a payroll tax cut by two months.

Mr. Obama said Thursday he is ready to sign the bill into law as soon as it lands on his desk. He said expiration of the tax cut at the end of the year would result in the loss of about $40 per paycheck to the average worker.

The Obama administration on Tuesday invited citizens to send emails to the White House saying what that $40 loss would mean to them. Mr. Obama said Thursday that some 30,000 people have responded so far, indicating the high level of public interest in the bill. Their answers included new shoes, heating oil, fuel for the car, and dinners out with loved ones.

Mr. Obama said it is time for House members to listen to those voices. And he noted that, earlier in the day, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called for passage of the bill as well.

The Senate passed the bill last week by a wide margin, but on Tuesday the House rejected it. House Republican leaders are pushing for an alternate proposal that would extend the tax cut by a year.

In a statement, McConnell said the House should pass the bill and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid should appoint members to work with House negotiators on a long-term bill.

The White House says 160 million Americans will see their taxes go up by about $1,000 a year if the House fails to pass the tax cut extension by the end of the year, while about two million out-of-work Americans will lose their unemployment insurance.