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Obama, Snowe Offer Dueling Economic Priorities

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Continuing the theme of Democrats and Republicans talking past each other on the economy, President Barack Obama used his weekly address this morning to call on Congress to extend a payroll tax cut while Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) used the Republican response to call for passage of a balanced budget amendment.

Obama said the payroll tax cut is important because it will contribute to economic growth. "Now is the time to step on the gas, not slam on the brakes" he said.

The president announced a new tax calculator posted on the White House website and invited listeners to use it to calculate the impact of the tax cut on their families and then "let your Members of Congress know where you stand."

The Senate voted on payroll tax extension plans twice Thursday and both votes failed.

"We're going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen," Obama said. "They shouldn't go home for the holidays until they get this done. And if you agree with me, I could use your help."

But Snowe put her emphasis on a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, saying ,"We have no greater duty than to once and for all obligate the government to live within its means and spend no more than what it takes in."

Snowe argued that, among other things, the balanced budget amendment would enforce the mandatory spending cuts that are supposed to take effect in 2013 because of the failure of the super commitee to reach agreement on an alternative deficit reduction plan.

"The bottom line is, the real reason many lawmakers don't want a balanced budget amendment is the exact reason why it's so essential," Snowe said. "They don't want their hands tied; they want to continue to spend without restraint. Their way has been to break budgets and amass more and more debt, all the while promising Congress will one day balance the budget. Well, as we sadly know, the promises were empty, the debt is astronomical and their way hasn't worked. Now, it's time for our way."

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