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Obama Presses Congress on Payroll Tax Cut

Saul Loeb/AFP/Pool

President Barack Obama today pushed Congress to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance as soon as possible, chiding lawmakers to avoid “ideological sideshows.”

In a brief speech at the White House, Obama argued that not extending those provisions could imperil the fragile economic recovery.

“That can’t happen, not now. And it doesn’t have to. Congress needs to extend that tax cut along with vital insurance lifelines ... without drama and without delay,” Obama said.

On Monday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that with a House-Senate conference committee stalled on extending those laws — as well as a Medicare payment system for doctors — he was prepared to move forward with a stand-alone extension of the payroll tax cut without paying for it with spending cuts elsewhere. House GOP leaders indicated they would continue to work on offsets for the "doc fix" and the jobless benefits.

But Obama appeared to throw cold water on that approach, arguing that, “no ideological sideshows, no self inflicted wounds” should slow progress on passage of the full package.

“We’ve seen some hopeful signs in Congress that they realize they need to get this done ... but as you guys know, you can’t take anything for granted here in Washington until it’s got my signature on it,” Obama added.

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