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Obama Puts More Pressure On House GOP Over Payroll Tax Cut

The political maneuvering continues in Washington as lawmakers debate how to extend about-to-expire payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

As Frank James writes over at It's All Politics, House Republicans are appearing "ever more isolated" after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged them to drop their opposition to the Senate-approved plan to extend those measures for another two months.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) spoke up to say that he'd be happy to start negotiations with the House on a longer extension as soon as that two-month plan is passed.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) isn't budging yet, though. He tweeted a short time ago that the two-month extensions are nothing more than "short-term gimmicks."

Now, President Obama is weighing in again. He just took to a stage in one of the office buildings adjacent to the White House to say "this is about people, this is about the American people and whether they win."

The $40-a-week or so that a family with an annual income of $50,000 would lose if the payroll tax cut expires is important to millions of Americans, Obama said. Some House members, he added, "don't think that $40 is a lot of money. But anyone who knows what it's like to stretch a budget, knows that at the end of a week or the end of a month $40 can make all the difference in the world."

The president then talked about the #40dollars Twitter hashtag the White House started to collect stories about how losing $40 a week would affect people.

"What's happening right now is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington," Obama said of the political stalemate. Noting that there's bipartisan agreement that the programs need to be extended, Obama said "even when people agree to things we can't do it! ... Enough is enough."

Update at 1:21 p.m. ET. Nothing's Changed?

CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller just had this to say on his Twitter page:

"So where do we stand? Same as yesterday. Everyone holding firm to their positions, no one giving in."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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