U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to further extend the temporary payroll tax cuts, a measure Obama said would support the nation's economic recovery.
Obama, who spoke after House Republicans signaled Monday that they planned to back away from a confrontation over how to pay for the payroll tax cut extension, said the nation still has much to do to fully recover.
"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," Obama said. "It's going to take time to recover all the jobs that were lost when the recession was at its depth."
The president noted that "the fight is beginning to turn our way" but warned that the economic recovery remains fragile
"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," he said. "The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America's comeback."
If Congress fails to act, Obama said, taxes will increase for millions of Americans at the end of the month.
"That can't happen. Not now. And it doesn't have to," Obama said. "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."
He added, "Just pass this middle-class tax cut. Pass the extension of unemployment insurance. Do it before it's too late."
Obama acknowledged that there were hopeful signs of movement in Congress, though he cautioned that nothing could be taken for granted until his signature turned a bill into the law of the land.
Obama also called on the nation to tell members of Congress what the average of $40 per paycheck would mean in their lives in an effort to increase pressure to extend the tax cuts.
"Tell them, do not let up until this thing gets done," he said. "Don't let taxes go up on 160 million working Americans."
He added, "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."
Extending the tax cuts and unemployment benefits are the least of what the nation needs to do to support struggling citizens, Obama said.
"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," he said. "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."
He added, "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."
by RTT Staff Writer
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