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Obama welcomes payroll tax deal

December 22, 2011
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WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is welcoming a deal on extending a payroll tax cut and congratulating Congress for ending its "partisan stalemate."

The president issued a statement Thursday evening moments after House Speaker John Boehner announced that House Republicans were reversing course and accepting a two-month extension agreed to by the Senate and supported by the president.

Obama says the deal, which also extends unemployment benefits, is good news just in time for the holidays and the right thing to do for American families and the economy.

And he is thanking Americans who pressured Congress to get it done.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

President Barack Obama on Thursday chided House Republicans he said are holding up an extension of expiring payroll tax cuts, saying the debate is "about the American people."

To make his point, Obama was flanked at the White House by people who said they would be stretched thin financially if Congress failed to extend the cuts before the end of the year. If no deal is reached, the White House says a person making $50,000 a year would see a loss of about $40 per paycheck.

"Now there may be some folks in the House who refuse to vote for this compromise because they don't think 40 bucks is a lot of money," Obama said. "But anyone who knows how to stretch a budget knows that at the end of the week or the end of the month, $40 can make all the difference in the world."

In seeking to ratchet up pressure on Republicans for a deal, Obama reiterated his call for a two-month extension of the payroll tax cuts, a measure already agreed to by an overwhelming majority of Senators from both parties. He said the House GOP's refusal to sign on to the bipartisan deal was exactly why the American people have grown so frustrated with Washington.

"This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree," Obama said. "How can we not get that done? Has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can't do it? It doesn't make any sense. Enough is enough."

House Republicans say they oppose the two-month deal because it doesn't provide the public and businesses enough certainty. They've called on Obama and Senate Democrats to instead negotiate a full-year extension now.

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner called Obama, their second conversation in as many days. The White House said Obama committed to immediately starting talks on a full-year deal if the House first passes the two-month extension. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also urged the House to pass a short-term extension while starting work on the full-year deal.

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