White House Recap February 18-24, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama Sings “Sweet Home Chicago” — Speaks at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Groundbreaking Ceremony — Signs the Payroll Tax Extension into Law & Unveils Home-Grown Energy Plan

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 18-24, 2012

The Obama White House has had a great week — featuring BB King, the Boeing Dreamliner, a speech about American energy, a payroll tax cut extension, and special musical guest Keb Mo.

West Wing Week

West Wing Week: 2/24/12 or West Wing Week 100!

Source: WH, 2-24-12

It’s hard to believe that when West Wing Week was born, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was still around, American troops were still fighting in Iraq, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and nobody knew that President Obama could sing — what a difference 694 days makes. We’ve got a great week for you — featuring BB King, the Boeing Dreamliner, a speech about American energy, a payroll tax cut extension, and special musical guest Keb Mo.

Weekly Wrap Up: “Sweet Home Chicago”

Source: WH, 2-24-12

Your Voice, Your $40: On Wednesday, the President signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extends the payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year. He credits the Americans who added their voices to the debate by letting their representatives know what $40 means to them—“This got done because of you…You made it clear that you wanted to see some common sense in Washington.”

President Obama, In Performance: Some huge names in music—Mick Jagger and B.B. King, among others—joined the President and the First Lady for a night of blues on Tuesday as part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series. By now, we’re no strangers to the President’s impressive pipes, and he certainly held his own against the music legends as he sang a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago.”

New Museum on the Block: Tourists and locals alike appreciate Washington, D.C.’s museums. In 2015, a new one will open its doors—the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The President, who was accompanied by the First Lady at the future museum’s ground breaking on Wednesday morning, remarked that, “This museum should inspire us…It should stand as proof that the most important things rarely come quickly or easily. It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.”

CC2C: Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis hit the road this week for their three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour to highlight the integral role community colleges play in developing a flexible, highly-skilled 21st century workforce.

Welcome to Miami: President Obama visited the Sunshine State on Thursday and stopped at the University of Miami to check out their Industrial Assessment Center (IAC)—a smart and important piece of the administration’s “all-of-the-above” approach to domestic energy sources. He also spoke to the Hurricanes about securing a future for America built on home-grown energy, and his blueprint to help us get there.

Political Buzz February 22, 2012: President Barack Obama Signs the Payroll Tax Cut Extension Bill “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012″ into Law

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Signs the Payroll Tax Cut

Source: WH, 2-22-12
Just now, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 — extending the payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year.

Last week, the President called on Americans from across the country to add their voices to the debate and let us know what they would do without an extra $40 in their paychecks. Thousands of individuals did exactly that, and it made all the difference.

At the time, President Obama said, “Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep on speaking up…If it’s not on the White House website, it hasn’t happened.”

It happened. Here’s that picture the President promised:
President Obama signs the payroll tax cut (February 22, 2012)

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3630 – Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 in the Oval Office, Feb. 22, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

David Plouffe sent an email to the people who shared their stories with the White House, and they were the first folks to get the news. Here’s what he said:

Good evening –

When President Obama asked you to speak out on the payroll tax cut, you jumped into action. Thousands of individuals from across the country wrote in to say what $40 with each paycheck means to their families.

And it worked.

President Obama just signed the legislation extending the tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year.

When the President spoke with a group of individuals who came to the White House after sharing their stories, he said, “Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep on speaking up…If it’s not on the White House website, it hasn’t happened.”

We just posted a picture of the President signing the bill on WhiteHouse.gov. Go check it out.

Extending the payroll tax cut was a critical step for middle class families, but we still have a lot more work to do. So get ready.

Thanks,
David

David Plouffe
Senior Adviser

White House Recap February 11-17, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Presents 2013 Budget & Urges Congress Sucessfully to Pass the Payroll Tax Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 11-17, 2012

President Obama presents his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and explains how it will boost job creation and speed our economic recovery.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/13/12

West Wing Week: 2/17/12 or “Go Big!”

Source: WH, 2-17-12
This week, the President made a major announcement on preventive care, unveiled next year’s budget, pushed Congress to extend the payroll tax cut, awarded the National Medals of Arts & Humanities, met with China’s Vice President Xi, and traveled west to Wisconsin and California and the First Lady hit the road to promote her Let’s Move! Initiative.

Weekly Wrap Up: What $40 Means

Source: WH, 2-17-12

National Medals of Arts and Humanities: Extraordinary Americans who have excelled in the arts and humanities throughout their careers—from philosophers to sculptors—joined the President and First Lady at the White House on Monday for an occasion they look forward to every year: awarding the National Medals of Arts and Humanities. The honorees’ contributions, the President noted, “[H]elp guide our growth as a people. The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.”

Surprise!: As White House visitors stepped into the Blue Room on Thursday during a public tour, they were greeted by unexpected guests: the First Lady and the Obama family’s canine, Bo. Reactions ranged from shock and excitement to overwhelmed—watch the meet and greet here.

From One VP to Another: After accepting an invitation from Vice President Biden, Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China spent Tuesday morning at the White House to attend a series of meetings with Administration Officials including the President. His visit to Washington, D.C. also included a meeting at the Pentagon and a U.S.-China Business Roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among various other events.

Master Lock: The President headed from Washington, D.C. to Wisconsin on Wednesday to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing—something Master Lock is familiar with; the company has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

What $40 Means: In December of 2011, we asked Americans what $40 meant to them, and tens of thousands of Americans answered—$40 is a tank of gas, a co-pay for a doctor’s visit, a prescription medicine, a pizza night with their family. Their voice made a difference then and now—on Friday, lawmakers extended the payroll tax cut through the rest of 2012, in addition to extending critical unemployment benefits. You can watch this video to meet some of the tens of thousands of Americans who courageously shared what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and their family.

787 Dreamliner: On Friday, the President visited the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington to announce new steps to help promote American manufacturing and increase U.S. exports, following his outlining of a Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last. At that very facility, the 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced commercial airplane, is assembled—nearly 8,000 people are directly employed in building it.

2013 Budget: On Monday, President Obama announced his budget for the 2013 fiscal year in Annandale, Virginia. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules. The budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last—with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class. To read the complete budget, you can download the PDF here, or get an on-the-go copy for your Nook.

Full Text February 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Urging Congress to Extend the Payroll Tax Cut & Unemployment Insurance

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Extending the Payroll Tax Cut

Watch the Video

South Court Auditorium

10:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Well, good morning.  And let me start with a quick public service announcement for all the gentlemen out there:  Today is Valentine’s Day.  (Laughter.)  Do not forget.  I speak from experience here.  (Laughter.)  It is important that you remember this.  And go big — that’s my advice.  (Laughter.)

Lately, I’ve been saying that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class in America, and for folks who want to be in the middle class.  We face a choice.  We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well and everybody else struggles just to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  And that second option is, I strongly believe, the kind of America that we want for our kids and our grandkids.  That’s who we are. That’s the America that we believe in.  That’s what we have to roll up our sleeves and get back to doing, is creating an America where everybody is doing their fair share, everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is engaging in fair play.

We’re still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, and we’ve still got a lot of work to do and a long way to go.  It’s going to take time to recover all the jobs that were lost when the recession was at its depth.  But the fight is beginning to turn our way.

Over the past two years, our businesses have added over 3.7 million new jobs.  Our manufacturers are hiring more new workers to make more new things here in America than at any time since the 1990s.  So our economy is growing stronger.  And the last thing we need, the last thing we can afford to do, is to go back to the same policies that got us in this mess in the first place.  The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.

First and foremost, that means Washington shouldn’t hike taxes on working Americans right now.  That’s the wrong thing to do.  But that’s exactly what’s going to happen at the end of this month — in a couple of weeks — if Congress doesn’t do something about it.  The payroll tax cut we put in place last year will expire.  The typical American family will shell out nearly a thousand dollars more in taxes this year.  You’ll lose about $40 out of every paycheck if Congress does not act.

And that can’t happen.  Not now.  And it doesn’t have to.  Congress needs to extend that tax cut — along with vital insurance lifelines for folks who’ve lost their jobs during this recession — and they need to do it now, without drama and without delay.  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 I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)

Now, 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.  That is good news.  But as you guys know, you can’t take anything for granted here in Washington until my signature is actually on it.

So we’ve got to keep on making sure that the American people’s voices keep breaking through until this is absolutely, finally, completely done.  Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep on speaking up.  Until you see that photograph of me signing it at my desk — (laughter) — make sure it’s verified, certified.  If it’s not on the White House website, it hasn’t happened.  And I’m going to need to make sure that your voices are heard.

Last December, when we had this same fight, your voices made all the difference.  We asked folks to tell what it was like — what it would be like if they lost $40 out of every one of their paychecks — because we wanted to make sure that people understood this is not just an abstract argument, this is concrete.  This makes a difference in the lives of folks all across the country in very important ways.

Tens of thousands of working Americans flooded us with their stories, and some of them are here with me today.  And their feedback has been pretty unanimous.  Allowing this tax cut to expire would make people’s lives harder right now.  It would make their choices more difficult.  It would be $40 less for groceries to feed your kids; it would be $40 less for the medications you depend on; $40 less to cover bills and the rent; $40 less to take care of an elder parent, or to donate to a church or a charity.  And when gas prices are on the rise again — because as the economy strengthens, global demand for oil increases — and if we start seeing significant increases in gas prices, losing that $40 could not come at a worse time.

One local entrepreneur named Thierry — where’s Thierry?  He’s right here.  He told us that $40 would cover the gas that gets him to his day job, or, alternatively, the Internet service his small business depends on.  So he’d have to start making a choice — do I fill up my gas tank to get to my work, or do I give up my entrepreneurial dream.  “Forty dollars,” he wrote, “means a heck of a lot.”  Means a heck of a lot.

And that’s what this debate is all about.  This is what’s at stake for millions of Americans.  This is why it matters to people — it matters a heck of a lot.  And I’m asking the American people to keep their stories coming.  Tell us what $40 means to you.  If you tweet it, use the hashtag “40dollars.” (Laughter.)  Call, tweet, write your congressmen, write your senators.  Tell them, do not let up until this thing gets done.  Don’t let taxes go up on 160 million working Americans.  Don’t let millions of Americans who are out there looking for work right now, and the economy is starting to improve but they don’t have a job yet — don’t leave them without a lifeline in terms of cutting off their unemployment insurance.

When a plane is finally lifting off the ground, you don’t ease up on the throttle.  You keep the throttle on full.  You keep going.  And our plane is up there, but we’re not at cruising altitude yet.  (Laughter.)

After all, extending this tax cut and the unemployment insurance is the least of what we should be doing for working Americans.  It’s just a start.  We need to rebuild an economy where middle-class folks can focus on more than just getting by and folks who want to get in the middle class have those ladders to get into the middle class.  We’ve got to rebuild an economy where the middle class thrives and more Americans have a chance to earn their way into it — an economy built to last.

Yesterday, I released a blueprint for how we get there.  It’s a blueprint for an economy built on new American manufacturing, and new American energy sources, and new skills and education for American workers, and a new focus on the values that are the bedrock of this country — values like fairness and responsibility for all and from all.  We’re going to be better off if we start building that economy right now.

And we can do it, because we’ve done it before.  We have a common challenge; it’s time for us to meet it with a common purpose, and to show a sense of seriousness that’s equal to the task.

So on behalf of all the hardworking Americans who are standing behind me, I want to thank you for helping to tell your story, and tell the story of why this is so important.  And I just want everybody, all across the country, to keep the pressure so that we get this done.  It is going to make our economy stronger, and it’s going to put us in a position where we can start really rebuilding on behalf of not just this generation but future generations.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
11:03 A.M. EST

Full Text February 11, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges Congress to Pass the Payroll Tax Cut Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama urges Congress to extend the payroll tax cut to prevent a tax hike on 160 million hardworking Americans.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 2/10/12

Weekly Address: Extending the Payroll Tax Cut for the Middle Class

Source: WH, 2-11-12

President Obama urges Congress to extend the payroll tax cut to prevent a tax hike on 160 million hardworking Americans.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Extending the Payroll Tax Cut for the Middle Class

In this week’s address, President Obama urged Congress to quickly pass the payroll tax cut extension to prevent a tax hike on 160 million hardworking Americans who are still recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  This is not the time for a self-inflicted wound on the recovery or placing an added burden on middle class families, so Democrats and Republicans must pass this commonsense tax cut without drama or delay.  We overcame the same standoff over the payroll tax cut extension in December with the help of the American people, and President Obama once again calls on all Americans to tell their elected leaders to do their jobs, put aside partisanship, and extend this tax cut for the middle class.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hello, everybody.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen signs that our economy is growing stronger and creating jobs at a faster clip.  While numbers and figures will go up and down in the coming months, what cannot waver is our resolve to do everything in our power to keep stoking the fires of the recovery.

And the last thing we should do is let Washington stand in the way.

You see, at the end of the month, taxes are set to go up on 160 million working Americans. If you’re one of them, then you know better than anyone that the last thing you need right now is a tax hike.  But if Congress refuses to act, middle class taxes will go up.  It’s that simple.

Now, if this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before.  Back in December, Congress faced this exact same predicament.  Ultimately, thanks to your voices, they did the right thing – but only after a great deal of bickering and political posturing that put the strength of our economy and the security of middle class families at risk.  We can’t go through that again.

Congress needs to stop this middle class tax hike from happening.  Period.  No drama.  No delay.  And no ideological side issues that have nothing to do with this tax cut.  Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our recovery.  Now is the time for common-sense action.  And this tax cut is common-sense.  If you’re a family making about $50,000 a year, this tax cut amounts to about $1,000 a year.  That’s about $40 in every paycheck.  I know there are some folks in this town who think $40 isn’t a lot of money.  But to a student or a senior who’s trying to stretch the budget a little bit further?  To a parent who’s filling up the tank and looking at rising gas prices?  To them, $40 can make all the difference in the world.

And so can your voice.  I hope you’ll pick up the phone, send a tweet, write an email, and tell your representative that they should get this done before it gets too late.  Tell them not to play politics again by linking this debate to unrelated issues. Tell them not to manufacture another needless standoff or crisis.  Tell them not to stand in the way of the recovery.  Tell them to just do their job.  That’s what our middle class needs.  That’s what our country needs.

In the wake of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re getting things going again.  And we’re going to keep at it until everyone shares in America’s comeback.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

White House Recap December 17-23, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama, House, Senate & Passing 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: DECEMBER 17-23, 2011

12/23/11 or #40dollars

Source: WH, 12-23-11
With the holidays in full swing and the countdown clock ticking away, President Obama continued to press for the extension of the payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans and unemployment insurance benefits for those looking for work. The President urged House Republicans to put aside their political games and pass a bill that garnered overwhelming, bipartisan support in the US Senate.

West Wing Week

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: Speaker John Boehner & House Leaders Agree to Senate Payroll Tax Cut Extension — President Obama Pleased at End of “Partisan Stalemate”

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.
Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

John A. Boehner, the speaker of the House, announced on Thursday that Republicans had reached an agreement on the payroll tax cut.

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

Statement by Speaker Boehner on Efforts to Enact a Full-Year Extension of Payroll Tax Relief — Washington (Dec 22)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement:
“Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators. Under the terms of our agreement, a new bill will be approved by the House that reflects the bipartisan agreement in the Senate along with new language that allows job creators to process and withhold payroll taxation under the same accounting structure that is currently in place. The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension. We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas. I thank our Members – particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching – for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families.”

President Obama: “This is Good News”: For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.
In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.
Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.
This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

 

  • New payroll tax cut: Hard on the rich: The Senate’s revised version of the payroll tax cut prevents a handful of very high wage earners from potentially enjoying a huge windfall from the two-month tax break… – CS Monitor, 12-22-11
  • It’s over! Dueling statements from the speaker and the president: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. Afterwards both Speaker Boehner and President Obama released statements. … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Boehner: House leaders accept Senate tax terms: House Speaker John Boehner says he has reached agreement with the Senate to renew the payroll tax cut before it expires Dec. 31. The Ohio Republican said in a statement Thursday that he expects to pass a new bill by Christmas that … – AP, 12-22-11
  • House could be called back for vote on payroll tax deal: US House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said he would call the vacationing House of Representatives back into session next week if he fails to get unanimous consent on Friday for a payroll tax cut deal with the Senate. … – Reuters, 12-22-11
  • Congressional Leaders Announce Payroll Tax Cut Deal: Congressional leaders announced Thursday that they’ve struck a deal to ensure the payroll tax rate does not rise at the beginning of next year, potentially ending a stalemate that had put House Speaker John Boehner in a politically uncomfortable … – Fox News
  • Obama welcomes payroll tax deal, congratulates Congress for ending ‘partisan stalemate': 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 … – WaPo, 12-22-11
  • Boehner announces deal on payroll tax cut: House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday announced an agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. The deal amounted to a reversal of the … – CNN, 12-22-11
  • Cornered, House GOP Nears Capitulation on Short-Term Payroll Tax Cut Extension: On the fifth day since rank-and-file Republicans bucked a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, the House GOP finally seemed to give way under pressure…. – TIME, 12-22-11
  • Lawmakers reach tentative deal on payroll tax cut; House action Friday: Congressional negotiators have reached a tentative deal to extend the payroll tax holiday for two months, with the House set to act on Friday. A subdued House Speaker John Boehner announced the accord … – LAT, 12-22-11McConnell urges House to pass short-term extension of payroll tax cut: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said for the first time Thursday that the GOP- held House should pass a short extension of the payroll tax cut while the Senate appoints negotiators to discuss how to pay for the tax cut for the full year, putting him at odds with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who has insisted negotiations must take first.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech / Statement on the House & Senate Agreeing to a 2 Month Payroll Tax Cut & Unemployment Benefits Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HOUSE LEADERS AGREE TO THE SENATE’S PAYROLL TAX EXTENSION PLAN

Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension, sources say: A tentative deal has been reached under which House Republicans would accept the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, Senate sources say.
A conference call of House members is scheduled Thursday evening to finalize the arrangement.

House Republican Leaders Agree to Payroll Tax Deal: Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party to end the politically damaging impasse over a payroll tax holiday, House Republican leaders on Thursday agreed to accept a temporary extension of the tax cut, beating a a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year.
Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders — which Speaker John A. Boehner was presenting to the rank and file in an evening conference call — House members would accept the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday while the Senate would appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012…. – NYT, 12-22-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama: “This is Good News”

Source: WH, 12-22-11
For weeks, President Obama has pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened.

In a statement, the President praised the good news:

For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.

Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work.  And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.

This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs.  This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.

Full Text December 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech Discusses What The Payroll Tax Cut’s $40 Dollars Means for American Families Each Week

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses What $40 Means for Americans Families

Source: WH, 12-22-11
20111222 President Obama Discusses the Payroll Tax Cut

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the impasse in Congress over the payroll tax cut extension during a statement in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama gave an update about the status of the payroll tax cut.

When the spoke, the people standing behind him were all Americans who would see their taxes increase if the House of Representatives doesn’t take action.

Each of them was at the White House because they wrote in to tell us what they would have to give up if they lost $40 with every paycheck.

The President said:

[On] Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week. And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour. We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country. Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate. Let me just give you a few samples.

Read the full statement here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Payroll Tax Cut

South Court Auditorium

1:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon to all of you.  Merry Christmas.  Happy holidays.

We’ve been doing everything we can over the last few weeks to make sure that 160 million working Americans aren’t hit with a holiday tax increase on January 1st.  We’ve also been doing everything we can to make sure that millions of people who are out there looking for work in a very tough environment don’t start losing their unemployment insurance on January 1st.

Now, on Saturday, we reached a bipartisan compromise that would do just that — make sure that people aren’t seeing a tax cut the first of the year; make sure that they still have unemployment insurance the first of the year.  Nearly every Democrat in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Nearly every Republican in the Senate voted for that compromise.  Democrats and even some Republicans in the House voted for that compromise. I am ready to sign that compromise into law the second it lands on my desk.

So far, the only reason it hasn’t landed on my desk — the only reason — is because a faction of House Republicans have refused to support this compromise.

Now, if you’re a family making about $50,000 a year, this is a tax cut that amounts to about $1,000 a year.  That’s about 40 bucks out of every paycheck.  It may be that there’s some folks in the House who refuse to vote for this compromise because they don’t think that 40 bucks is a lot of money.  But anyone who knows what it’s like 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.

And that’s why we thought we’d bring your voices into this debate.  So many of these debates in Washington end up being portrayed as which party is winning, which party is losing.  But what we have to remind ourselves of is this is about people.  This is about the American people and whether they win.  It’s not about a contest between politicians.

So on Tuesday, we asked folks to tell us what would it be like to lose $40 out of your paycheck every week.  And I have to tell you that the response has been overwhelming.  We haven’t seen anything like this before.  Over 30,000 people have written in so far — as many as 2,000 every hour.  We’re still hearing from folks — and I want to encourage everybody who’s been paying attention to this to keep sending your stories to WhiteHouse.gov and share them on Twitter and share them on Facebook.

The responses we’ve gotten so far have come from Americans of all ages and Americans of all backgrounds, from every corner of the country.  Some of the folks who responded are on stage with me here today, and they should remind every single member of Congress what’s at stake in this debate.  Let me just give you a few samples.

Joseph from New Jersey talked about how he would have to sacrifice the occasional pizza night with his daughters.  He said — and I’m quoting — “My 16-year-old twins will be out of the house soon.  I’ll miss this.”

Richard from Rhode Island wrote to tell us that having an extra $40 in his check buys enough heating oil to keep his family warm for three nights.  In his words — I’m quoting — “If someone doesn’t think that 12 gallons of heating oil is important, I invite them to spend three nights in an unheated home.  Or you can believe me when I say that it makes a difference.”

Pete from Wisconsin told us about driving more than 200 miles each week to keep his father-in-law company in a nursing home — $40 out of his paycheck would mean he’d only be able to make three trips instead of four.

We heard from a teacher named Claire from here in D.C. who goes to the thrift store every week and uses her own money to buy pencils and books for her fourth grade class.  Once in a while she splurges on science or art supplies.  Losing $40, she says, would mean she couldn’t do that anymore.

For others, $40 means dinner out with a child who’s home for Christmas, a new pair of shoes, a tank of gas, a charitable donation.  These are the things at stake for millions of Americans.  They matter to people.  A lot.

And keep in mind that those are just the individual stories. That doesn’t account for the overall impact that a failure to extend the payroll tax cut and a failure to extend unemployment insurance would have on the economy as a whole.  We’ve seen the economy do better over the last couple of months, but there’s still a lot of sources of uncertainty out there — what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on around the world.  And so this is insurance to make sure that our recovery continues.

So it’s time for the House to listen to the voices who are up here, the voices all across the country, and reconsider.  What’s happening right now is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington.  This is it; this is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington.  This isn’t a typical Democratic-versus-Republican issue.  This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree.  How can we not get that done?  I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can’t do it?  (Applause.)  It doesn’t make any sense.

So, enough is enough.  The people standing with me today can’t afford any more games.  They can’t afford to lose $1,000 because of some ridiculous Washington standoff.  The House needs to pass a short-term version of this compromise, and then we should negotiate an agreement as quickly as possible to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the rest of 2012.  It’s the right thing to do for the economy, and it’s, most importantly, the right thing to do for American families all across the country.

This is not just my view.  Just a few hours ago, this is exactly what the Republican Leader of the Senate said we should do.  Democrats agree with the Republican Leader of the Senate.  We should go ahead and get this done.  This should not be hard.  We all agree it should happen.  I believe it’s going to happen sooner or later.  Why not make it sooner, rather than later?  Let’s give the American people — the people who sent us here — the kind of leadership they deserve.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:08 P.M. EST

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping with Bo

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping

Source: WH, 12-22-11

Just in time for the holiday, President Obama found a little time this week to get some Christmas shopping done. First Dog Bo went along for the ride — presumably to supervise the President’s stop at a PetSmart just outside Washington, where the two picked up a couple items and mingled with other shoppers, both human and canine.

President Obama and Bo go shoppingPresident Barack Obama reacts as Bo, the Obama family dog, meets a poodle named Cinnamon while shopping at a PetSmart store in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 21, 2011. (by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama goes Christmas shopping: Home alone at the White House, President Barack Obama headed on an impromptu Christmas shopping trip Wednesday with first dog Bo, searching for some holiday cheer despite the latest stalemate with Congress…. – AP, 12-21-11
  • Obama and Bo go Christmas shopping: President Barack Obama took a break from wrangling with House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon for a quick pre-Christmas shopping trip to buy gifts for his daughters and Bo the dog.
    After calling congressional leaders to reaffirm his support for the Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Obama exited the Oval Office with Bo in tow and headed to a shopping strip in Alexandria, Va. — a man alone with his dog as his family vacations in Hawaii…. – Politico, 12-21-11

After leaving the pet store, President Obama continued on (companionless) to Best Buy to pick out some games and gift cards for his daughters before heading to a local restaurant for a few pizzas to take back to the White House.

Need more Bo? Watch this video about his role in this year’s White House Holiday decorations

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