President Obama on Tuesday suggested that the House GOP’s recent willingness to extend the payroll tax cut without offsets is “good news” but warned that it can’t be taken for granted — and capitalized by demanding an extension of the tax break and unemployment insurance without “ideological sideshows.”
“The good news is over the last couple of days we’ve seen some hopeful signs in Congress that they realize that they’ve got to get this done. And you’re starting to hear voices talk about how can we go ahead and make this happen in a timely way on behalf of the American people,” Obama said at the White House. “That is good news.”House Republicans on Monday dropped their demand that the payroll tax cut be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere, a huge concession that paves the way for extending the tax holiday for the rest of the year. They said unemployment insurance and the Medicare “doc fix” still need to be offset.
But Obama urged Americans to keep up the pressure and warned not to consider anything a done deal. “You can’t take anything for granted here in Washington until my signature is on it,” he said. “Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep on speaking up.”
The President noted that letting the tax cut lapse at the end of this month would cost the average working American $40 per paycheck. He urged people to pressure their representatives with traditional techniques like writing and calling their offices, but also through new media, such as starting a #40dollars tag on Twitter.
Democrats privately fear that Republicans may demand unrelated policy concessions such as the Keystone pipeline or loosening of pollution regulations in order to agree to continue the provisions. Obama’s message to the GOP: Don’t go there.
“They need to do it now — without drama and without delay,” he said. “No ideological sideshows to gum up the works. No self-inflicted wounds. Just pass this middle class tax cut. Pass the extension of unemployment insurance. Do it before it’s too late.”
And in a line that Republicans are sure to use against him later in a different context, Obama declared, “Washington shouldn’t hike taxes on working Americans right now.”