Obama: Payroll tax cut clock is ticking


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the White House on Dec. 5, 2011 urging Republicans in Congress to extend the payroll tax cut.


Alex Wong

President Barack Obama warned Congress that time is running out to extend the payroll tax cut and urged lawmakers to take action in remarks in the White House briefing room today.

“As soon as this year ends, so does that tax cut,” Obama said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There aren't many folks, neither in the middle class or those trying to get into the middle class, who can afford to give up $1,000 right now. That's why Congress must act.”

Obama also accused Republican legislators of having a double standard when it comes to tax breaks, Fox News reported. “How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger for taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn't make sense," he said.

After Obama spoke, his staff unveiled a payroll tax cut countdown clock that is ticking down the minutes to the end of the year, USA Today reported.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Hary Reid introduced a new proposal for increasing the payroll tax cut to $1,500 and extending it through 2012 that offsets the cost with GOP-supported spending cuts in addition to the Democrat-supported surtax on annual income above $1 million, the LA Times reported. The new bill does not include a previous tax break for companies that hire unemployed people.

According to the LA Times:

Republicans are unlikely to embrace this latest proposal, as they say tax breaks for workers do little to stimulate the economy. They also say the tax breaks should be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the budget, rather than relying on a surtax on millionaires as Democrats have proposed in the past.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, complained that Republicans were not consulted about this latest bill, Fox News reported. "Frankly, the only thing bipartisan about this latest political gambit is opposition to the permanent tax hike on small businesses to pay for temporary one-year tax policy,” he said. “With the long list of things Congress has to get done by the end of the year and the clock ticking, it's pretty mystifying that the majority is pursuing more political show votes that won't go anywhere.”

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