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Obama blasts House GOP for blocking payroll tax cut extension

December 20, 2011|By Christi Parsons
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

While members of Congress point fingers at each other for gumming up the payroll tax cut, President Obama is watching the bickering from the White House--where he is apparently happy to spend the holiday season until a deal gets done.

The rest of the Obama family has gone ahead to Hawaii for their pre-planned holiday trip. But aides say the president will continue to delay his vacation in hopes of inspiring House Republicans to take up a Senate-approved measure extending the tax cut beyond midnight New Year’s Eve.

Despite the delay in his beach trip, Obama was reveling in his prime political position on Tuesday. He even made a personal trip to the White House briefing room to remind the public that he opposes expiration of the tax cut, which would cost the average family an extra $1,000 next year.

Republicans on the Hill are fighting over the issue for political reasons, Obama said, because they’re trying to extract greater concessions from Democrats.

They ought to take a lesson from the military service members returning home from Iraq this holiday, Obama said Tuesday.

When they’re in the field, Obama said, those troops don’t think about “how this will play in the spin room.”

“They work together as a team,” Obama said. “We owe it to them to come together right now and do the right thing.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner pointed a finger at Obama, saying he ought to call on Senate Democrats to go back into session and work out differences on the bill with the House “as quickly as possible.”

The House Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate bill that would have extended the payroll tax cut for two months while leaders worked out a longer extension. Boehner wants a conference committee to come up with a year-long extension before the end of the year, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won't appoint members to such a committee.

But Obama wants to stand behind the bipartisan Senate bill – and in front of the cameras, where he seems to like the case he is making before the public.

A “House Republican referred to this as high-stakes poker,” Obama told reporters. “He’s right about the stakes . . . But this is not a game.”

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