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.
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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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