Obama, Boehner face off on payroll tax

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama used the payroll tax debate to continue to push his campaign trail effort to portray the House Republicans as irresponsible and petulant obstacles to economic recovery.

The Republican-led House has rejected the Democrat-led Senate’s economic bill, which extends the Social Security tax cut for 160 million people by two months. Obama had asked for a one-year extension worth $1,000 per person. That one-year extension is in the House bill, which the Senate rejected.

“This is not a game, this is not politics, this is Americans’ livelihoods — it’s a thousand bucks” for the average family, Obama said in a surprise appearance in the White House’s newsroom.

“What they’re really trying to do … is to wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut,” he continued.

Obama left after his short statement and refused to take any questions.

Immediately afterward, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner appealed for the president to summon the Senate back for Hill negotiations.

“The Senate voted to give the people a [two-month,] $166 tax cut. We voted to give the people a $1,000 tax cut,” Boehner said. “I need the president to help out.”

“We’re proud of the bill we passed. … We’ve done our work for the American people, now it is up to the president and the Senate Democrats.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed the same themes as Obama, and declined to comment on polling data that shows some gains for the president.

“This is not a game, this is not politics, this is Americans’ livelihoods — it is a thousand bucks on average,” White House speaker Jay Carney said on Dec. 20, after suggesting that the GOP opposed the budget deal out of personal animus to President Barack Obama.

“The president is not, and should not, be a marriage counselor” between the Senate and Republican congressmen, Carney added. “That’s a conflict they need to resolve on behalf of the American people.”

Obama’s anti-Congress strategy may be working. In early December, a Washington Post/ABC poll showed Obama’s approval ratings rise, especially in relation to Congress.

The poll showed that 49 percent of respondent approve of his job performance, and 47 percent disapproved. Compared to an earlier poll by the Post and ABC, “he has recovered from single digits among Republicans, with 19 percent of Republicans now approving of his job performance,” the Post article read. “For the first time since May, he’s pulled about even with seniors, 48 percent to 49 percent, and strengthened among people age 18 to 29, 55 percent to 36 percent.”

The poll of 1,005 was not limited to likely voters, however, and included people who are not registered and who are not likely to vote as well.

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